"dream great dreams and find the courage to live them"

-erwin mcmanus

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

moving to hope

There once was a girl who cut herself.  She chose to cut where nobody would ever see, so made her marks on her hip bones.  She thought there was no hope for her to change, so she vowed to get a tattoo from hip bone to hip bone that read "some scars may never heal."

This girl went through life believing about herself that very thing - that she was unfixable, that the pain she had experienced could never be healed, that her heart could never be restored.  Then one day she was sent off to a group home where she denied having any issues at all, pretending as if her life was great and her parents simply wanted to make her miserable by sending her off.

Several days after arriving, she was already writing a letter to her parents, admitting to everything.  She came, over time, to understand that other people can enter into her brokenness, that Jesus can come into her brokenness, and heal her.  She saw that her heart could be stitched back together, that each crack could be filled, each wound healed.  A verse that became important for her was Isaiah 53:5: "By His wounds we are healed."

She told me a few days ago that she changed her mind about that tattoo she wanted.  Instead of "some scars may never heal," she wants from hip bone to hip bone, from scar to scar, to say "He can heal all wounds."

What a beautiful transformation.
God is faithful, God is Good, and He does heal all wounds.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

the greatest birthday gift. ever.

Yesterday was my birthday.
And while I can't say that it was the worst birthday I've ever had (that would be my 19th, hands down), there really wasn't a whole lot to celebrate this year.  Things kept going wrong, I was an emotional wreck, and I was continually put in a place where I was working like crazy and didn't have a whole lot of support around me.

Until one of the Littles decided that instead of a group going out to play sand volleyball, they would buy ice cream and have a birthday party for me.  It was so sweet..

They all went around and told me what they would give me for my birthday if money and circumstance weren't issues.  It revealed to me just how well each of the girls knows me.  One gave me my dream car (um.  I don't even have one of those, and I'm content driving anything that runs and is reliable.).  One gave me a shopping spree (no thanks?).

But one girl...  One girl said, "Erin, I would give you a wonderful Christian man who loves you and loves Jesus, who has a stable job and a home in the suburbs of Chicago where you can see the skyline and be a part of the city life, but where you can still see the stars and have open space."

Ohhhh, that girl knows me.  Every piece of that sounds just... wonderful.  And yes, it would be one of the most incredible birthday gifts I could ever get.  We combined all of the girls' gifts to make the most phenomenal birthday ever.  Here is what I remember of it:

I would go on a shopping spree to buy new clothes and choose a new iPhone, so that I could use a day off to book a flight (on a ticket that never expired and can be used multiple times to wherever I want) on my new iPad to go to Chicago where I would arrive to my dream car which I would drive to the suburbs to meet that wonderful Christian man.  We would own a new home, and have our own genie to grant our every wish.

Sounds like a pretty great birthday gift, if you ask me.
Now if only it would really happen...

sleep deprivation.

This is a different place.

New Littles, new Bigs, new procedures, and new schedules have created an environment that is so vastly different from that of a month ago.

Like right now, I'm still awake at 5:30am on night watch.  I sit drinking the very Red Bull that I once loathed, the Red Bull that I once said tasted like urine and now it's the one thing keeping me awake through this night of every-15-minute checks on the girls' rooms.  It's a new thing in our schedule, and I think I like it (except that I've had to resort to Red Bull to get me through it).

It's too early in the morning to write a real post.  So this is it, I guess.
At 6:30 I'll be going to bed.  And I look forward to it.  A whole lot.

I think this is the first and last night watch post that I write, as it so very clearly has no content except that of a deranged, overtired, caffeinated, stressed, emotional night watch perpetrator.
Good night and good morning.

Thursday, August 18, 2011


It's inevitable.
Things change, people change, and directions change.

The important thing is to seek after the Lord in all of it.  To pray for adaptability because things are not stable.
I've made a sort of idol of stability.  I desire it more than anything.  Even as I look at my future, I dream in a way that shows me having a house and a family, a husband who has a stable job, or at least having one myself.

It's okay to dream.  I know this.  But I turn it into a plan.  My plan.  Not God's.

To desire God more than I do stability is difficult, but it must stem from knowing and loving this God.  To know Him is to believe in Him, and to believe in Him is to trust Him.  To trust means to rely completely on His promises as good and right and true.

Dream.  But let God be God in and through your dreams.
(this is a message/reminder to myself as well...)

Sunday, August 14, 2011

meet my friends.

I would like to introduce you to my friends.
Brooke and Jen have been awesome here at Shelterwood.  Not only have they been my music gurus, they are an emotional support.  They, and several others, cry with me, laugh with me, and make my time here really something bearable/wonderful.  I love them.  So much.

It is post-summer break here and things are pretty fine.  Yesterday was spent at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Krispy Kreme, putting on ridiculous fake tattoos, picnicking at the park, playing sand volleyball, and painting.  Sound fantastic?  Well, it was.  And today we all went to Redeemer Fellowship for church (only the church that I wish I could be more involved with and the one where the preaching reminds me of New Community Covenant Church in Chicago).  Having a "family lunch" at Chipotle followed by some time at the Plaza (mostly Barnes and Noble) was everything that we all needed today.  An hour-long all-house rest time, a quiet dinner, root beer floats and a night swim made for a great ending to a weekend that continues all week long!

Now that I've given a nearly minute-by-minute summary of my weekend, I think I'm going to sign off for the night.  Feel free to give me a minute-by-minute summary of your weekend too, since that's the new cool (narcissistic?) thing to do.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

enjoy becoming.

Today I got to do so many things I enjoy:
  • Went to the dentist to get my teeth cleaned (I really do love this :))
  • Ate lunch with my family.
  • Went for a run.
  • Played piano.
  • Bought a few new songs.
  • Started reading a new book.
  • Saw a movie with my mom. 
  • Started a craft project.
So many good things have made this visit just what I needed.
And I just really love my family.

My dental hygienist is really someone wonderful.  The mother of three and a lover of Jesus, she shared with me today that her clients are the reason that she keeps doing what she's doing.  She thanked me for sharing my faith with her, for allowing her to see into my life a little bit, to share how God has been working.  Astonishment and tears dominated our conversation as we talked about God is moving, but about how much brokenness there is in these teens I work with.  It all started when she asked if we could somehow implement a flossing program at Shelterwood and I had to inform her that we aren't even allowed to have dental floss because of its potential for harm.

I think the girls at Shelterwood are really creative.  Really very creative in the ways they sneak around, how they sneak in their vices, and in the ways that they manipulate.  Honestly, it still is surprising.

I find myself thinking in similar ways.  How can I speed without getting caught?  I'm tired.. How can I be a little bit lazy today without it looking like I'm being lazy?  We try to get away with little things that compromise our integrity.  We try to manipulate God and others to see us as something other than we are, instead of being the wonders that God created us to be.

S tells me regularly that Shelterwood has allowed her to be more and more of who she really is.  It has stripped her of all the things she put on herself, things she did to be accepted, the character traits she showed to gain approval.  She has become more and more of who God created her to be.

We, too, are always becoming, caught in the "already, but not yet" of redemption and the Kingdom of God.  This life here sure is interesting, as we navigate what it means to live well here while looking at what is to come.

Sometimes my writing turns into a kind of stream-of-consciousness post, instead of a topical thing as I intend.  I think I'm okay with it.

Monday, August 8, 2011


1.  a wistful desire to return in thought or in fact to a former time in one's life, to one's home or homeland, or to one's family and friends; a sentimental yearning for the happiness of a former place or time.

This weekend satisfied all the nostalgia I've felt over the last seven months.  It allowed my "wistful desires" to be met.  It returned me to to my "homeland."  It fulfilled my "yearning for the happiness of a former place or time."

Chicago.  This visit was a little confusing.  I went to some of my favorite places.  I took walks to coffeeshops.  I stayed with and saw dear friends.  I drove past my old apartment.  I don't mean to be too Eastern, but it had a sort of centering effect.

I was reminded of all the things I love about the city.  I was also reminded of all the things that brought me to leave.  I was reminded that I currently have no real direction or plan for my life other than to trust God.

While this time in the city was really something wonderful, the remainder of the week will be spent in Green Bay.  I hope to finish a few books, play a lot of card games (family time!), see a few more friends, and just... rest.  A simple goal, really.

To be alive, to enjoy, to be still.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011


We all want to be noticed.  Some for good things, some for bad.  We sometimes do things specifically, but occasionally subconsciously, to be noticed.

Tonight I was (and still am) stressed.  Frustrated and disappointed about so many things, I couldn't handle being in the car with five girls who want to listen to country music at full volume.  (Side note:  what happened to good music and why in tarnation do all these girls listen only to country?  How do they think they're going to have any hearing left when they're old if they blow out their eardrums when they're 17? And why oh why do they choose country, of all genres?  Oi.  So many things wrong with this picture.)

I found myself on the brink of tears (okay, a few came out..) the entire ride back to Shelterwood from our movie night.  When we got back I dropped everyone off, then went to the lower lot to park the car.  I let the tears roll as I walked back in the darkness, so when I arrived at the house I wanted (even expected) someone, anyone to ask me what was wrong, to see that I had been crying, to comfort me.  When it didn't happen, I started to evaluate the whys.  Why I felt the way I did in the first place, why I wanted what I wanted, and why I was disappointed when I didn't get it.

We crave attention.  We want people to know things about us, to understand us, without us telling them.
Let me take responsibility for my part in this, because I write collectively like this far too often:
I crave attention.  I want people to know things about me, to understand me, without me telling them.

Sure, everyone shows this in different ways, as everyone desires to be noticed through different means and for different things, and perhaps my part in this is far more subtle and far less detrimental to my mental state than others.

Some make big scenes when little things go wrong.
Some follow you around telling you story and story, pining for approval and affirmation.
Some make problems for themselves; they create drama or harm themselves.
Some just wait to be sought out, feeling alone and rejected when it doesn't happen.

All seek the same thing:  attention; to be noticed.
I think the sad thing isn't that we seek attention, at least not on its own, but it's the reason why.  This world does not revolve around any one person.  Sure, each of us is kind of trapped in our own little minds and small, but ever-expanding, worlds.  However, that does not give allowance for one to expect everyone else to fawn over them.  It does not mean that the actual world revolves around them, instead it means that we have to work harder to help each one to look outside of himself to see the bigger picture.

Our affirmation cannot possibly come from man.  We constantly strive for what can never satisfy us.  The only way we can be fulfilled is to be in Christ.  Christ in me, me in Christ, Christ in God.  I am secure.  I am loved.  I am unconditionally accepted and affirmed.  I am created in God's image.  I have nothing left to desire but to know God more.

So the next time you feel unnoticed or unappreciated, remember the One who created you.  Remember that you are more than how you are perceived.  Remember that creating attention for yourself only temporarily fills what Christ alone can satisfy.  Seek the Lord with everything you have.  Let every moment be for His glory, not your own.