Friday, July 31, 2009

God Cares About The Details

Over the past 6 weeks as I have been planning my wedding, I have been overwhelmed by how much God cares about my wedding. Right down to the color of the flowers, He cares about every detail!

I have been dreaming about an outdoor wedding for a long time. I decided I wanted to try to rent a very quaint, but beautiful park in the center of historic downtown Fredericksburg. The park has brick walkways, lamp posts, and a fountain. As I starting the process of booking the park, the dream quickly became a nightmare of permits and policies.

Just when I was beginning to feel discouraged, Gods favor seemed to be all over me as I spoke with the Parks & Rec. office; it now looks like things are really working out. GOD also provided the insurance we needed for the park for $200 less than we thought we were going to have to pay!

I know God cares about fashion! Not only was I able to find my dress in one day, but at an amazing price. Did you know that God was the first fashion designer? Just look at Genesis 3:21

“And the Lord God made clothing from animal skins for Adam and his wife.”

I wonder what Stacy and Clinton would have thought about those leather and suede outfits!!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Thorns

I have two cats that I call my camo-kitties. Their colors help them blend into our country setting. Gives them a survival advantage. Summer means that every day my cats bring in hundreds of little weed stickers clinging to their fur. Many get into the carpet and blend in. If I don’t catch the stickers with the vacuum cleaner, guaranteed my bare feet will find their sharp, painful thorns.

Not fun. But these are small. I can easily remove them.

There are thorns not so easily dealt with. The Greek word used for the thorns Paul wrote about in 2 Corinthians 12 is skolops, meaning “something pointed and sharp that causes severe pain and is a constant irritation.”

Really not fun.

Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” seemed to cause unrelenting pain and distress. Maybe it was a frustrating limitation or an illness, maybe what was viewed as a physical defect. We don’t know, but we get the sense it was something that was a difficult and constant companion.

As a teen I had plenty of difficult and constant companions I wanted to shake. My quietness (no longer a problem!). My parents' divorce and the pain and struggles that went with it. My move to another state leaving good friends far behind. My mixed-up relationship with my father. My height and wishing I were taller. My easy tears. My . . . I could keep adding to the list.

In the Bible we aren’t given many details beyond the words, “thorn in the flesh.” Ever wonder why God left the details out? I’d love to hear your take on that.

I kinda think it might be because he thought of each of us. Our thorns would be different from Paul’s. The mystery of his makes the possibilities limitless of how God might work in each of our lives through our own unique painful and frustrating thorn.

I see his love in that.

www.choosetolivefree.com
www.jankern.com

Monday, July 27, 2009

Fun video!

Hi everyone!

I found this video and I just had to share it! I hope you all get a good laugh and start off your week with a smile! :)



Love ya guys!

Erynn :)

Thursday, July 23, 2009

False Expectations

I definitely consider myself to be an optimist. I have a very positive outlook on life and am generally flexible and easy going. I would also define myself as visionary, with high standards for myself.

I think that because I’m an optimist, I visualize myself overcoming incredible odds to achieve an idea I have in my head, or if for some reason I have aimed too high and don’t achieve the dream, I look at all the positive things that did happen and how much I did accomplish in the process, while trying not to beat myself up for what I didn’t accomplish. This concept generally works better the more successful I am. Over the years however, I’ve noticed a tendency I have that seems to really work against me. It is the whole concept of false expectations.

Having unmet expectations is probably hard for anyone, but especially for people who paint a picture in their mind of how something is supposed to look or how a situation is supposed to turn out, and then it doesn’t at all, not even close! I can think of a few very specific examples of this playing out in my childhood.

One Christmas when I was about ten, I had asked for several specific toys. I probably got about 80%, but that didn’t seem to matter. Admitting my reaction is quite embarrassing, but true none the less; put plainly, I was very upset. I can remember crying endlessly over the toy I didn’t get, but had to have and couldn’t live without. Its not so much that I wasn’t happy with what I had gotten, I really wanted those things too, it was more about the anticipation in my mind of having all the things I wanted and being unable to see there individual value.

Or there was the time I begged and begged for a guinea pig because my friend had one and my life was incomplete without one. Honestly, I really wanted a bird and my parents said no, they had also said no to a puppy and a kitten, so I figured I’d try the guinea pig because it seemed like a lower maintenance pet. Well, my campaign was very convincing and won them over, but what I thought would fulfill my longing for companionship, turned out to be a boring lump of fur that I couldn’t train to do tricks or talk.

Again, I had set my expectations high and had been disappointed. I’m definitely not saying we shouldn’t have expectations, but how do we have them without going overboard? There have been many times that shooting for the stars has really helped me thrive and accomplish many goals. You’ll be glad to know that I don’t throw fits when I’m disappointed anymore, but I still have to fight the disappointments I face in my everyday life, when plans don't work out, when I have to miss something I was looking forward to, when people don't cooperate, or one of my favorites- when traffic doesn't cooperate.

Finding this balance is a quest I’m still on.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Teens and Purity


1. Consider purity. What does “purity” mean? Freedom.
pu⋅ri⋅ty –noun

1. the condition or quality of being pure; freedom from anything that debases, contaminates, pollutes, etc.: the purity of drinking water.
2. freedom from any admixture or modifying addition.
3. ceremonial or ritual cleanness.
4. freedom from guilt or evil; innocence.
5. physical chastity; virginity.

Some things I wish I had practiced as a teen:

Consider God’s best choice. If Jesus were sitting across from you, looking into your eyes, what would He say? What is His best that He wants for you?

Make it your choice … not your parents’ choice. Looking back in five or ten years what would make you proud?

Consider purity in your mind, body, soul and spirit. Purity isn’t just about sex; it’s about every part of you. It’s about integrity. It’s about being whole people. It’s also about helping others stay pure. Has something you said, or did, or wore become a stumbling block for someone else?

Consider marriage … and your future spouse. The bonding of two people for life. Every time you are emotionally or physically intimate with someone you’re giving a piece of yourself away.

Look to good role models. All of us follow where we are led. Who to you look to for inspiration? Do you follow behind people who live with integrity and purity?

Be a good role model. Consider your life. Are you living with integrity and purity?

Get cleaned up. None of us are completely pure. Psalm 139:23-24: “Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Take your mistakes to God. Bring them to Him in prayer.

Learn from others’ mistakes. You don’t have to mess up to learn the pain and heart-ache it brings.

Consider what love is. Love is not sex. Going “all the way” with someone doesn’t prove your love. (No matter what they show on television.) Going all the way is committing to someone for life! True love is shown through life-long commitment and by valuing the other person. You are the one responsible for setting limits on a relationship.

Pregnancy CAN happen to you. Having sex, even so called "protected" sex, can lead to pregnancy. It can happen even to kids from a good family and homeschooled kids. The only way to 100% prevent pregnancy is to not have sex. Also, you can get an STD from physical contact alone. If any part of the other person touches any part of you … you can get an STD.

Even “good girls” get pregnant. Likewise, being a “good guy” isn’t enough to stop you from getting your girlfriend pregnant. Having a good report card, being a good person, having an important parent, or being conscientious will not protect you from pregnancy. According to teenpregnancy.org, 1 in 3 young women get pregnant at least once before they turn 20—good girls included.

Most teens wished they had waited. Sex before marriage can lead to pregnancy and STDs, but there is also emotional baggage. According to teenpregnancy.org, 60% of teens “wished they had waited longer” to have sex. When you have sex with someone you are bonded to them for life.

Plan his/her actions BEFORE the situation arises. Do: set boundaries. Do not: get into situations that will cause you to compromise decisions. Making good plans can help you stick to goals.
Consider media’s wrong messages. The media (television, radio, movies, music videos, magazines, the Internet) are chock full of material sending wrong messages.

There’s a thing called secondary purity or secondary virginity. You can say “no” even if they’ve said "yes" before.

Ask your parents to interview your dates. Interview your possible date yourself, too, him/her about morals and boundaries. Tell him/her your expectations.

Seek God … often. “Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.” 2 Chronicles 20:15b (NIV). Listen to His still, small voice.

Books for teens:
• Every Young Woman’s Battle by Shannon Ethridge (Waterbrook)
• So You’re About to Be a Teenager: Godly Advice for Preteens on Friends, Love, Sex, Faith, and Other Life Issues, Dennis and Barbara Rainey, with Samuel and Rebecca Rainey
• Secret Keeper: The Delicate Power of Modesty, Dannah Gresh (Moody Publishers)

Like this? Check out My Life Unscripted

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Locked out


Last Sunday my son Nathan and I returned from the evening service to discover that the front door lock was broken. No, it wasn’t the result of a break-in; the lock had simply passed its expiration date. When I inserted the key, it kept spinning around and around in the lock. The irritating thing is that we’d seen signs of trouble for several days. Of course all the windows were securely locked and I didn’t have the key to the side door. Even the dog door had the safety cover on!

As I scurried around, trying to find a way to break in, wishing that I had a friend with a criminal background, Nathan followed and begged, “Mom, can’t we just go back to the church?”

“Maybe we should call Grandma and Grandpa,” I muttered. No, they lived across town. It would take a half hour for them to reach us. “Or Susan and Carl. I bet they’re home.”

“Why don’t we go to the church?” Nathan persisted. “It’s faster. Please! Hurry before everyone leaves.”

“You know what? You’re right.” I grabbed Nathan by the hand and headed down the street to our second home.

We got there in time to a friend. She tried everything from the old credit card trick to lifting out a window. Neither attempt worked so she called another friend who didn’t have much luck either. In the end we had to call a locksmith, which one of them was kind enough to cover the cost of.

It took two hours but we got back in.

“Nathan,” I said later as we settled down for bed. “You were right. We needed to go to the church. You know exactly where to go when we’re in trouble.”

Over this past year Nathan has seen our church family reach out to us in many ways as we dealt with one crisis (mostly medical) after another. He knows that they have helped us fix things around the house, enjoy special food during the holidays, and even pay bills. Their generosity made it possible for him to continue attending Christian School. One friend (who I kept a secret from him) even covered his swimming lessons this summer. I worried that all this would make him feel weird—like the poor kid. Instead it taught him that we have a second family that loves us. It taught him where to run for help.

I thanked God that my seven-year-old knew where to go before I did—that he wouldn’t let up. Our church home should be our refuge. Now I pray that he will always appreciate the love of other Christians, and that they will continually point him to Christ.

How has your church family been a refuge for you? Is it a place where you can run when you need help?

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Are You Hanging On the Vine?

I’m exhausted.

Two weeks ago I went with my church’s youth group to camp as a sponsor. What a blast! We swam, we worshiped, we got bug bites. And I reveled in the opportunity to spend time with and minister to the young women from my church.

I was home for a week before heading out on the youth mission trip. It was hot and sweaty and hard work. But I dug the chance to minister alongside teenagers to the people in other communities.

I spend the past two days at my grandmother’s bedside praying for her and caring for her as she faces a very serious illness.

I’ve been doing plenty of ministry these past few weeks, but I haven’t had much time for Jesus. I haven’t cracked my Bible in a month. I’ve been to pooped out every night to pray. And tonight as I sit at home exhausted with laundry piled to the ceiling and partially unpacked suitcases everywhere, I’m wondering how I forgot to take Jesus to my mission fields this summer.

And I’m reminded of the vineyard.

John 15:4-6 says, “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. 'I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.’”

Ouch. Apart from Him I can do nothing. If I am ministering to others without Him, all of my efforts don’t amount to a hill of beans. If I'm not connected to Him, I can't expect to bear much fruit.

What about you? Do you ever get so busy doing Christian stuff that you loose your connection to Christ? Have the mission trips and camps and Vacation Bible schools you’ve been participating in been for His glory or your entertainment? Are you too busy with your youth group calendar to read your Bible and pray?

Are you connected to the vine?

If not, follow my lead. Let’s call a time out and regroup. Let’s make a concentrated effort to spend time with Jesus and let Him establish His priorities for the rest of our summer. Otherwise, we’re at risk of spending our summer in the sun without producing any fruit.

Friday, July 17, 2009

My Mother Myself



This is my mom, Marion Bond West Acuff, and my step-father, Gene Acuff.

My friend Robin at www.allthingsheartandhome.com blogged about my mother this week. She's doing a series on aging and wanted my mom's thoughts.

It got me thinking. As I read my mom's words, I started remembering. When I was a teenager, we didn't fight much but there were a few times....like when I wanted to shave my legs. She thought I was too young. I was thirteen. As silly as it sounds, my mother didn't want me to shave past my knees. That was a pretty big fight. We fought about my bathing suit each year. When I started dating this certain guy, she only wanted me to ride to school with him a couple of times a week. Maybe that was smart because we were young and we married at 18 and 19. :-)

But I also thought about the good things. My mother's a writer. She introduced me to words. When I was in kindergarten, she had me memorize Edgar Allan Poe's poem, Annabelle Lee. Then she told my kindergarten teacher all about it and I had to quote it by memory in front of the whole class. I hated it--and maybe even hated my mother that day. But I can still quote the poem--most of it anyway. And I loved all my Language Arts classes--even loved writing term papers.

We were a family who never missed church. My father might have let us skip a Sunday or two. Not my mother. But even though there were times I wanted to flop around the house and not go, I learned about the Bible. It didn't mean much to me as a child, but as I read my Bible now, the words feel like the pages--soft and familiar. Like home.

I have my mother's red hair and brown eyes and freckles. It took me a while to like my hair (until I was 25 or so) but now I kind of like myself--my looks. I wish I'd gotten her long legs.

My favorite thing she did was take us to the library. Nerdy, I know, but I loved being able to check out a stack of books. She let us read anything we wanted to. She wasn't strict in that area. :-)

Does anybody have any thoughts to share about your mom? If you're a teenager, you might be in the middle of a fight with her--but things change. I can almost promise one day you'll appreciate her.

Love,
Julie

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Dreadful Deadlines

In high school and then in college, I wrote all my research papers, term papers, book reports, everything the night before they were due. I did research work, collected thoughts, notes, etc. beforehand, but I put the first sheet of paper in the typewriter around 8 o'clock the night before. The teachers awarded my rampant procrastination with high marks. Shame on them! See I am trying not to declare ownership of my problem. But alas, I do have a problem. Is there a PP meeting I can join? Surely someone has a twelve-step program for Persistent Procrastinators. Hello, my name is Donita K. Paul and I am a procrastinator. Why am I seeking help? Well, it is something to do instead of write. So I end up in WUP. Wupland is where you Write Under Pressure. You wup yourself for being such a wussy writer. Schedule? Organize? Plan? What? Do you think I'm OCD or something? At least I've avoided that set of problems. See? Another instance of not owning my problems. Okay, I think I've made my point. Now I am going to go write. Right after lunch.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Okay, I'm posting on a day that is not one of my two regular days of the month. But then this has been one of those irregular summers, and I'm finding myself wondering what might happen next--either surprisingly good or uncommonly difficult.

While I was updating one of my personal blogs, I ran across an old post that still rings true for me in some ways--especially the part about God's shape of things being far better than I imagine. So here it is--an old post that has current relevance for me:

I’m wondering . . . What causes you to want to scream and kick a wall? What about your relationship with God do you love or do you question? What in life throws you or strengthens you?

I’ll start.

I have a passion to do something (what it is isn’t so important for this post), and I really think that I could possibly do it well . . . eventually. (Wow, look how those adverbs show my uncertainty!) With encouragement from a couple friends, I’ve even gone after this passion a few times, but when I do I get a face plant in a brick wall. Okay, not literally—that would hurt.

Things just don’t work out one way or another. But then I think, isn’t this something good that God would want to happen? That’s the kind of thing that throws me. It can really discourage me, in fact. Questions pour through my mind. Even the question, “What’s wrong with me?” I get stuck.

And yet, at least in this area, I’m not questioning God so much as my ability to hear him well. I guess this is one of those mixed things. I’m thrown by it, discouraged and saddened. I also know the experience can strengthen me. I want to be careful not to easily let go of a passion—one that maybe God wants me to have—but I am going to slow down and listen some more to him, see what he has to say.

I’ve been learning that to go after something I’m passionate about hardly ever takes the shape I first imagine . . . and that God’s shape is always far better. I want to trust more. I know that’s a freer place to live.

http://www.choose2livefree.com/
http://www.jankern.com/

Monday, July 13, 2009

Oops...


So, I definitely was going to post on here yesterday.

And totally spaced it. :(

ARUGH! Does anyone else have this problem? I am so forgetful! I forget directions, ingredients, wallets, keys, phones, leashes, receipts, my entire purse, everything on a very regular basis.

I have become the Queen of Excuses.

"I was busy." "I wasn't paying attention." "I was on vacation." "I was too busy scratching the nineteen mosquito bites I got at a wedding this weekend." (Seriously. Nineteen. Horrendous amounts of scratching is going on here)

It is most definitely a problem, my forgetfulness. I end up late for things because I forgot something and had to go back to get it. I let down friends. I don't accomplish something I committed to do.

Sometimes for me, forgetfulness goes beyond wallets, keys and blogs, though.

It ends up reaching to God.

And it's not a good thing. I will be doing great on my devotional time with God. I'll be working on "praying continuously" like Paul says, and genuinely trying to let my faith in Christ guide my everyday decisions.

And then I have a busy weekend. And I forget the One who created the beautiful weather for the Saturday picnic. I have something to do every weeknight. And I forget that my friends are gifts from God and that He deserves the thanks for them.

Do you struggle with this too?

Let's do our best to not be like the guy James describes in the Bible, who looks in a mirror and notices his reflection and then immediately forgets it. He used this analogy to show knowing the truth versus living the truth.

I want to know who Christ is and I want Him to be glorified in how I live. So I'm going to start praying for a good memory and the ability to pay attention.

Who's with me?

--Erynn :)

Calling Us Deeper

Last night, I was pondering what I would write today on here, but this afternoon, I ran across an article that I felt I should share instead. It's about a young photojournalist and her growing and deepening desire to see God's people with His eyes.


Very cool story. I hope it blesses you today.

Sarah

My Free Blog Book: Totally Unfamous

Sunday, July 05, 2009

A Fresh Perspective

I spent the first few days of July with my parents and sisters. We had a great time, taking the kids swimming and spending time together. One afternoon after, hanging out in a play area, Mom and Dad took me and my youngest to a local ice cream place. The shopping center was packed with people who had some time off for the Friday before 4th of July. One man took the time to say hello to us as we passed him. I immediately noticed his thick Chinese accent.

I returned his greeting. My son Nathan waved.

“Happy July four,” the man added, with the same enthusiasm that a person would use when saying Merry Christmas.

“You too.” I said.

“Why did he say that if Fourth of July isn’t until tomorrow?” Nathan asked.

“Because he’s excited. Fourth of July is a great day.” I quietly explained how new and thrilling Independence Day is for people who move to America from countries where they don’t have our freedoms.

Suddenly I remembered one of the mothers at a preschool where I used to work. She had just moved to our area from Korea. Our director tried to explain to her that the school would be closed on the 4th.

“It’s a holiday,” the director said, expecting to have to explain it.

Instead the woman smiled and nodded. “Oh yes, yes.” She carefully but proudly pronounced, “Independence Day!”

As I walked into the ice cream store, those two voices echoed in my mind.

“Happy July four.”

“Oh yes, yes. Independence Day!”

As newcomers to America, the day truly meant something to them. Their fresh enthusiasm renewed my appreciation for a holiday that probably wasn’t as big in my mind as it should have been. So yesterday I celebrated the 4th with a new perspective, thanking God for all that it represents.

Why does it take a heavily accented “Happy July four” to remind me how blessed I am? Have you had similar experiences? I would love to hear about them?

Friday, July 03, 2009

I love to dance!!



I have rhythm. I can dance. I won a dance contest as a senior in high school. But my husband doesn't like to dance. I hadn't danced in years. Lots of years.

I missed dancing.

We went on our first cruise a couple of weeks ago with three other couples. I never knew when you go on a cruise there's always this background music 24/7. They had seventies night. I started feeling the rhythm rising up in me. Did I still have it? Can you forget how to dance? A little nervously, I went on the dance floor. My husband followed me.

All of a sudden, I WAS DANCING AGAIN. We were dancing! Well, he was swaying a little bit, but it still counts as dancing. :-)

Today, I went to my yoga class at the YMCA. Except it wasn't yoga. Surprise! Surprise! It was a zumba class. A salsa dance class! I had no clue. I was the only one barefooted and with a mat. The instructor promised me I'd be fine dancing without shoes. No, I didn't get every step right like most of the ladies/girls, but it was soooooooooooooo much fun.

I came home and looked up the word "dance" in my Strong's Concordance. I thought maybe the Lord would have something good to say about it.

Guess what I found? Psalms 149:3. "Let them praise his name in the dance; let them sing praises unto him with the timbrel and harp." KJ From the Living Bible it says, "Praise his name with dancing, accompanied by drums and lyre."

May we dance before Him in praise.

Anybody else love to dance?

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Deadline Doozy

I missed my last blog date because I was in the hospital. It definitely was not a planned visit. I had three infections, and they ganged up on me. But I'm home now and recuperating.
And this is a good thing. I have a book to crank out. This is when I am grateful that both July and August have 31 days. I need the extra two days.
I had my assistant print out a quote I found. It says, "One's objective should be to get it right, get it quick, get it out, and get it over. You see, your problem won't improve with age." I posted it where I can see it. The hope is that I will not ignore this advice.
I have a tendency to stew over things. Whether it is clean out the closet or write another chapter, I have to ponder the task for a while. Make that for days, sometimes, even months. 
What good does this do me? None that I can tell. 
I think of the Bible verse that says we should run the race before us. One of the spiritual truths I embedded in The Dragon Keeper Chronicles is that God expects us to do the task before us and that is it. He doesn't expect us to plan out daily activities for next year. He doesn't need us to contemplate what we should be doing ten years from now. Part of recognizing God is in control is to do the mundane as well as the spectacular. So, when I do the mundane (produce a thousand words a day), at the end of several months I have something spectacular--a new novel. 
When I was a teen, I daily went to high school. Believe me, it wasn't the most thrilling of experiences. But at the end of three years, I had something spectacular--a diploma and all the head knowledge that went with it. 
You know the old question, "How do you eat an elephant?" One bite at a time. 
Well my quote reminds me that I know how to eat, so I shouldn't be stopped by the first mouthful. I can get this right. 
Doing it quick saves me a lot of angst.  
Getting it out and over with gives me a lot of pleasure (and relief, too)
So I am resigning my position in the Procrastinator's Club. 
Starting right after lunch.



Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Who is your role model?

I had an impromptu phone interview yesterday and the reporter asked me about "role models". Who are the role models for today's girls? Good question. 

Role Model - a person who serves as an example, whose behavior is emulated by others.

I think that's a good start on a definition, but when I think of a role model, I think of someone I want to be like in some way. Yes, yes, we need to be more like Jesus - but when we find people in our lives or in the culture that "shine Jesus", then we get a great example of how to be more like Jesus ourselves.

But it got me thinking - who are the good role models in our culture for girls? Who "shines Jesus" out there in a way that makes you want to be like them?

I can't wait to hear your thoughts!


Sarah
Follow me on Twitter


Girls, God, and the Good Life

 
Designed by Munchkin Land Designs. Copyright 2011. All Rights Reserved.