Friday, December 30, 2011

What is it?

i've been thinking about this a lot lately.  what is it?  what is it, really?

i've been asking myself this question for the past few weeks and haven't really come up with a solid answer.  so i'll ask it on my blog.  what is it, really, that makes someone want to read about someone else's life?  whether it's a blog, or a celebrity biography.  I have found myself intrigued with certain celebrity's lives.  the first book i read about a celebrity was Portia de Rossi. Her book is called Unbearable Lightness.  it was so good. it's her story of how she fell into her eating disorders, annorexia and bullemia.  it started when she was 12, at her first photo shoot.  the photographers asked her if she worked out. she answered sheepishly and said no.  the photographer suggested that she start because her "ass is too flabby."  (pardon the language, im just quoting.)  I found that to be intriguing. why? because i used to be 12. and when i was 12, i wasn't really worried about my backside being too flabby.  (i don't really have a backside to begin with) i was worried about whether or not the boys on my summer street hockey team would pass me the ball because i was a girl.

For Christmas, my sister bought me Ellen DeGeneres's new book.  i LOVE Ellen.  yea, she's a lesbian. guess what, I DON'T CARE! She does more good than some of the Christians in this world.  (there i said it.)  Anyway...I guess i'm intrigued because these people, these celebrities...they are people too. they were 12 one time.  And to hear a celebrity air her laundry about her eating disorders in such graphic, vulnerable commendable.  it's role model-ish. 

After i read Portia's book, is when i noticed i started to become more vulnerable in my own blogs.  not to gain noteriety from the handful of people that read it from my facebook or twitter page...but because that's what people want.  they want real.  they want muck.  they want mush.  they want heart.  and if that's what they want...well,  i'll give it to them...but not because that's what they want. but because that's what i want.  it would be a terrible waste to walk this earth for however many more years i have left and not allow people to really truly know who i am, to the core.  I've already shared a great chunk of my life through this blog and the funny thing, is that i noticed the stats on my blog posts have jumped from about roughly 6-10 clicks to about 30-50 clicks each post.  and that isn't to puff up my head (it's puffy enough.) 

It made me realize that when i started to shed light on who i really am, of course more people want to read the real stuff.  too much of today's society is airbrushed, photoshopped, diet-pilled. people aren't really interested in that garbage.  not anymore.  So i'll use this tiny, minute soap box platform to delve a little deeper.

I've ALWAYS always wanted to be...a writer.  always. since i was little. I was a master speller, grammar freak, English/Literature class extraordinaire.  I'm still most of those things.  Once i went to Bible school, though, i shoved that dream. Why? Because i was at Bible school. I had to be a pastor. or a worship leader.  not a measly writer.  besides...there were people that were far greater than me at grammar, punctuation, research papers, eloquently written reports.  i couldn't possibly measure up to any of them. 
so i didn't write. and now...i do.  even if it is on this tiny, minute soap box platform. and some day, i want to write a book. 

the written word has such great power. it can touch hearts, set captives free and the one thing i always want to do every time i click "publish" is to offer some kind of truth and hope to whomever reads these posts.  i pray every time i sit at my computer that each word, phrase, quote, funny story, punctuation mark and picture moves those that read it.  Helps others to understsand that they aren't alone. There's a real person that sits behind these words. and a real heart that beats with passion to write with clarity and truth.  grace and healing.  and most importantly, vulnerability. 

Thanks for reading. 

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Please. Have yourself a Merry little Christmas

This has got to be my favorite Christmas song. it's a close tie between that and Oh Come All Ye Faithful. 
Anyway. I know for a lot of us and the rest of the world, Christmas is a favorite holiday. And i got to thinking a couple days ago...people say how much they just LOVE Christmas time. updating facebook status...hash tagging...instagram. i love it. and it makes me happy to see all the happiness about Christmas. then you see 10 minutes later something negative about it's stressful. from the same person that updated about how amazing Christmas is. i just laugh. 
today i was thinking, (i think a lot, can you tell?) can every day REALLY be like Christmas? Can we still listen to "Oh Come All Ye Faithful" on March 2nd? Can we belt out, "Oh Holy Night" and "Joy to the World" in the middle of Summer?  we don't really have to wait until the day after Thanksgiving to be thankful and excited for the birth of Christ...which is the reason we celebrate Christmas.'s the reason i do. 

I remember when i was little...i made note of all the steps that would squeak and crack under my feet the morning of Christmas. i would do my best to avoid those like 4 in the morning.  To make sure Santa proved my innocence that year. and every year, i was good. there were always gifts under the tree. there were always footie pajamas that my sister and i wore every year until we were like, 10. and there was always a feeling that 'there must be something more than ripping to shreds this wrapping paper.'
turns out there was. i just didn't know it yet.

On my drive home from our Christmas Eve service at church tonight (which, by the way, i spent my time in my pjs and slippers, eating popcorn and drinking juice boxes with 1st-5th graders) i smiled as i drove past all of the lights lit up in the yards and strung on houses and lawn ornaments. There's a specific house that has a HUGE front window that is nearly the length of the house. They have an immaculate Christmas tree. Every year, i slow down and stare at it in awe and smile.  driveways were packed with cars. including mine.  and i smiled.  As i came closer to my house, i was nearly overwhelemed to tears as a song played on a CD i made full of Christmas tunes. It's called 'Because of Your Love'. it's not even a Christmas song. but it so could be.
the lyrics moved me so greatly.  i swallowed my tears of gratefulness. please read the lyrics.
Jesus you endured my pain
Savior you bore all my shame
All because of your love

Maker of the universe
Broken for the sins of the earth
All because of your love
All because of your love

Because of your cross my debt is paid
Because of you blood my sins are washed away
Now all of my life, I freely give
Because of your love, Because of your love I live

Innocent and Holy king
You died to set the captive free
All because of your love
Lord you gave your life for me
So I will live my life for you
All because of your love
All because of your love

Because of your cross my debt is paid
Because of your blood my sins are washed away
Now all of my life I freely give
Because of your love, because your love I live

You did it for me, you did it for love
I'ts your victory, Jesus you are enough x3
I've had myself a Merry litthe Christmas and it's not even Christmas yet...
i'll be honest...i've gotten some pretty spiffy gifts already...but that's not why my Christmas has been merry.  my Christmas has been merry because of the people i've spent my time with.

it always seems like at the tail end of the Christmas season, i seem to habitually reflect back upon my year and every single year...despite the landslides, the sorrows, the hardships...i ALWAYS have something to be thankful for. always.  as i reflect on this past  God has never been more real to me. I've never felt more at peace. i've never felt more 'fit in'

and those are things ya just can't stick under a tree. even one as pretty   as mine.  ;)   all 9 feet of it.

Merry Christmas. i hope all that read my blog posts are blessed and encouraged and challenged.  May God be ever present in your lives as He has faithfully been in mine.   

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

The one that got away:aka the one I didn't REALLY wanna publish

Rarely do I allow my posts to shed even a sliver of light to the very depth of my being. Why? Because I'm scared. Of what? You. I'm scared of you and what you'll think after you read it. Im scared that by the end (or even before the end) you'll have already decided to never read another word I write. You'll have already decided that "ok, this one...I'm not entirely sure about." a few times I've gone there. And those times too I was scared of judgement. But now I know...the thing that people really want these days out of other authenticity. So I share the truth. The realness. Jesus saved me. And I would be remissed to not share at least that. God is the one I model. Or try to...and I'm human. So I know I've failed. But His grace never does. His love never fails. So now, really for the first time ever, I share the whole me. The one that is lead by God and loved by God. (hey. So are you)

In the early morning hours, You are there. When the sun still sleeps...You're there and awake. You never tire. You never sleep. Whether the moon is full or a sliver in the darkest of skies, You are there. When I'm asleep or afar...You never are. God. There's only 1. You didn't complicate that. But I do. As I've wandered aimlessly in my own wilderness, You were always my compass, gently guiding me back home. Never truly knowing what I was looking for, I secretly hoped I would find You. But I was never lost. Only searching. My knees feel weak at the thought of Your sacrifice, Your second chance for me to be free. My heart aches with heaviness as I conclude Your love really does permeate to the very depths of the hidden parts of my wounded heart. My weathered soul. My head falls heavy on my shoulders as I realize there's nothing I've ever done or will do that would cause You to turn away Your face. My arms feel like bench presses when they are lifted in surrender. Dependent upon Your grace. Finally. And perfectly. I am a dependent.

Monday, December 19, 2011

sometimes the best option just pisses people off

i don't normally blog or talk about publicly my anger. it actually takes a lot to make my blood boil. it's kind of interesting what does make me mad. this made me mad today.

i pulled into the effronterous (annoying, stupid, awkward) parking lot at wal-mart (like seriously, can't you just make your parking lot normal like all the other stores? one where you don't have to guess which way you're supposed to drive thru it? parking on an angle? anyway...there's my beef. When i got there, there was a truck parked next to me. i was driving my dad's big truck to run errands for him and my mom. so. 2 big trucks parked next to each other in a wal-mart parking lot. i'd accomplished much already and it wasn't even 1 in the afternoon yet. the passenger got out and pulled out an amigo from the bed of the pickup. i was confused b/c the driver that helped pull it out could walk fine.

so i got out, and went in the store.  when i came back, they were still there, messing with the amigo. then i got in the truck and realized the person that couldn't walk (like, seriously, i think both her legs were fake) was sitting in the back of the truck. the driver and the passenger were sliding her out of the back of the truck and into the amigo. which was parked right in front of my driver side bumper. so rather than get irritated, i weighed my options.

1.) i wasn't really in a hurry. i could wait.
2.) i didn't want to back this huge truck up in a wal-mart parking lot to go the other way. but i am a good driver.
3.) i could adjust and go out the opposite way so the people helping the crippled person into the chair didn't feel rushed.

i decided to go with number 3. i put it in reverse, with finnesse, backed it up, readjusted and went around the truck.  the driver, thru his tinted sunglasses i could tell, was grateful. he smiled a huge smile and waved as a thank you gesture. i returned the gesture and a smile. when i swung out, a lady in a small SUV was coming up the aisle. i knew we'd have a problem. i wasn't gonna fit thru with this huge truck. if it were my small SUV, i woulda cleared it no problem. but it HAS been awhile since i've been called a stupid b****.

the lady, clearly flaming mad, kept driving towards me. seriously? then realized the obvious and threw her car into reverse, quite rapidly and abruptly and moved. then readjusted (hey...kinda like what i did!) then we both fit thru and i wanted to roll down my window to tell her the reason why i had done such a stupid thing to ruin her entire day, but when i looked over to do so, she was shaking her head and mouthed the words, "What a stupid b****."

sorry for ruining your day, lady. i was just trying to make someone else's a little easier.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

the opposite of hating potato skins

I never used to be a fan of Sunday's. I'd have the intention, on Saturday night, of going to church in the morning. And then at 8 when my alarm ignorantly buzzed...I'd shut it off and try to think of some lame excuse as to why I JUST COULDN'T MAKE IT! Trust me, they were so lame. Now...Saturday nights, as I lie in bed thanking God for the furnace that faithfully turns on when the house temp drops to below 70 degrees, i feel, if only slightly, the same butterfly-in-my-stomach feeling I get the night before Christmas. I'm excited to go to church. And instead of thinking of a lame excuse to skip it, I try to think of a good excuse to stay for both services. This past Sunday, I had a really good excuse to not stay for both services.

He's 6. and we had a date. It started out like any other date with a 6 year old would; with a blue raspberry slushy and a beef jerky stick. His favorite snack. He says its his favorite. Then he said from the back seat, "Erica. I'm like my dad you know why?"
I said, "No Bradley. Will you tell me?"
he said, "because we both like beef jerky. And we like the same things."
I said, "what things do you like?"
he said, "well we both like jerky, we both like the same stores." then he said, "are we almost there? This isn't the way we normally go to your house."
"You're right, Bradley. I remember there's a spot on our drive where you know we are almost to my house and it looks familiar to you. But this time, I drove the opposite way."
I knew the word 'opposite' threw him for a loop.
He asked, "Erica, what does opposite mean?"
Crap. How do I explain this. That was my thought. So I used the best example I could. I said, "ok. So if I said that someone was tall, the opposite of that word is short. Does that make sense?"
He answered confidently, "Yes!" So I decided to test my teaching.
I said, "Ok, Bradley. If I said something was big, what would be the opposite of that word?"
without any hesitation he shouted, "small!" As selfish as it may seem, I was quite proud that I had just taught a 6 year old such a big word.
"Bradley. What's the opposite of left?" "Right!" "ok what's the opposite of boy?" "Girl!"

I did it. What a successful car ride. I did all that with a Bible major and a youth minor. Ha! Ok. I'm done. So the real reason he came over wasn't to learn opposites. That was a bonus. Bradley came over to make some ornaments to hang on his tree. And oh my goodness. He's good. I knew, however, that once we got to my house, we weren't going to dive straight into the craft. I showed him what we were making and he was excited. Then he remembered I have Super Mario Brothers for the wii. He anxiously waited for me to set it up. Then we both sat on the ottoman and I was Luigi. And he was Mario. We played for about an hour and then we made the ornaments. Well, he made them while I secretly documented the day with pictures on my iPod.

He usually doesn't like when we ask to take pictures. But when I asked him for a picture with me, there was no hesitation. We ate lunch. Which consisted of his favorite snack...other than beef jerky...potato skins. He loves them. Opposite of love...hate. He opposite of hates potato skins. after potato skins, he wanted to draw. Actually, he wanted me and a friend to have a draw-off.

One of my friends dropped by. Bradley wanted us to draw a car and he and a panel of judges would judge our drawings and deliberate to choose a winner. I totally played to his 6 year old mind. I wouldn't call it cheating like my friend did...but I would call it smart. ;) I didn't just draw any car...I drew a police truck. Upon hearing his effort to whisper to my dad what we were drawing, my friend and I chuckled at what we overheard. He said to my dad, "Uncle Rick. Erica is drawing a police car. It has a siren too." I looked over at my friend and said, "I think I just won. You can stop drawing now." he kept coming and looking over our shoulders. And then Ginny wised up and played the game like i was. Earlier, Bradley was mimicking ninja moves. So Ginny drew a 'ninja' car. What does that look like? Well simply a reddish pink car with a ninja at the wheel.

After much deliberation, I made out with 2 'X's under my name and Ginny had one. I was the champion. According to a 6 year old. And I've learned, this particular 6 year old is pretty dang smart!  Let me be fair and say, in a technicality, best drawing contest, not judged by a 6 year old, Ginny would have totally demolished my slick police SUV. It was more detailed and realistic. Later on I asked Bradley why he didn't choose Ginny's car as the winner. He said, "Well it is good. But Erica, it's pink." :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Where'd that come from?!?!?!?

i got it from my momma. ultimately, yes, all things come from God. that is true. but i know that my huge heart came from God...and my mom.

Every year, my mom and i go to the mall entrance near Target and (yes we eat popcorn) pick names off of the Salvation Army Giving Tree.  we discuss the cute names, then the ages, then share tears as we read the simple requests written on these tags.  Sally. age 2. baby doll.  And every year, i have the same defeating feeling.  "I want to buy all these kids everything they want."  and then feel so small in comparison to all of their needs and wants. Donovan. age 6. Thomas the Tank Engine.  i wish i could dig deeper into my wallet and find more bills. Raina. age 4. Barbie dolls.  my heart rips a little more.  Howard. age 3. coat size, 4T. likes car toys.  we pluck the tags off and race to jcpenny, straight to the winter coats. then to the clearenced jeans and hoodies.  we hold up outfits, exchange head tilts and "aww, that's so cute!" and drape it over our arms...which we wish were bigger.  Last year, my mom had a few coupons. we found shoes and some other stuff for an older teenaged boy. he wanted sneakers. with the coupon, i think we ended up spending 12 bucks. the shoes were about 4 times the amount, original sticker price.  my mom tearfully paid the lady as she expressed how grateful she was this boy would have a pair of shoes for Christmas. I shook my head and said, "oh mom" and had to walk away before i joined the waterworks. 

two years ago for Christmas, i asked my mom if for half of my Christmas presents, i could choose 2 names off of the tree and pick out gifts. she agreed.  when you finish the shopping, you bring back the items in bags and remove the price tags.  when i brought the gifts back, i had to use a Target shopping cart to bring the bags to the Salvation Army table in the mall.  as I handed over about 5 big Target bags full of clothes, toy cars and baby dolls, the older lady taking the bags started to cry. then i did.  she gave me a hug and said, "Never lose those angel wings, sweety."  I left in a hurry.

last week, my mom was shopping for the 3 little kids we picked off the tree.  she ran into an old friend that works at the store.  this friend shared the hardships her family was walking through.  my mom opened up her wallet and handed her a 50 dollar bill.  she said, "Please take this." without missing a beat...50 dollars.

yesterday, i got an email from my uncle reminding family and friends how he and my aunt adopt a family for Christmas.  they normally go thru Salvation Army or their church to find a needy family to adopt.  This year, they decided to look closer to home to see if there were any family members or close friends that were in need.  close friends of theirs recently experienced a death in the family.  last weekend. they decided to adopt them.  that family has all their basic needs covered as far as a home and food and clothes. but none are in the mood for celebrating gift-giving.  this family lost a wife and mother of 5.  my uncle shared the Christmas list of each child and the husband.  the husband had listed an umbrella.  an umbrella.  the oldest sister listed socks, tshirts and gift card. my heart sank when i kept recalling the umbrella.  such a simple request.  i ended up buying the oldest sister a pair of slippers and my mom stuck in some bath and body works lotions and sprays.  i closed the lid on the box of gifts and thought, "I wish i could do more."

'tis so much greater to give than to receive.  thanks mom.

Monday, December 5, 2011

a special Christmas blog post

oh come on. you didn't think i would? you should know me by now. what with all those words you've read and pictures you've would know me if you saw me at a Starbucks.  please.

ok. now that that's done...

so i got this thing in the mail from my place of employment. i skimmed it to see if i got a bonus for Christmas, i didn't. i immediately lost interest. but i still read it...kinda. mostly. it was a note from the hospital talking about how it offers counesling services during the holiday season free of charge to its employees because it is a stressful time of year. making sure we take time for ourselves.  it is now crumpled up in our trash, awaiting landfill real estate.  seriously. im glad that i know that service is available...during the holiday season. ya know, when people are the most stressed out. i can understand why we would need counseling...i mean, after pitching a tent in front of Best Buy for 3 days before Thanksgiving. carrying a tube of pepper spray to ward off other eager customers for that hot ticket item. yes. lets get those people some counseling. Man. i get tired of hearing that kind of stuff. i can totally understand (and sadly, relate) to the stress thing during the holiday season. but gosh...i wish i didn't. and to be honest, i don't as much as i used to.  im glad for that.
but here's the reason.

spoiler alert...Christmas isn't about how much money you spend on someone special. it's not about how many parties you get invited to. it's not about who's sweater is the ugliest (though that is fun to debate). it's not about TNT running the movie A Christmas Story 24 hours straight starting Christmas Eve at 8pm (though i do watch about 15 hours of that). and it's not about some jolly old fella wearing a red suit, eating your cookies, drinking your milk, brining you what you want for Christmas and all the pretty wrapping paper. it's just not.  those would be the reasons why we stress.  making sure we get that last Xbox, iPod, iPhone, laptop. and if we don't...screaming at the khaki-wearing sales clerk that earns about the amount that 2 gallons of gas costs per hour to listen to that malarky. 

im not a Scrooge. i promise. I love Christmas. and i love giving gifts to people.  i love going shopping for them. i love having to think of something to top the gift i got last year.  and yes...i do love ripping open gifts. sitting on the floor in my flannel pajamas, sitting cross-legged, trying to act like im 25 and not 6. eating a piece of candy out of my stocking for breakfast.  I. LOVE. CHRISTMAS! i really do. 

but jeeze.  thanking God for sending His one and only Son to this earth so that we could be free from our horrid junk...the only person that should be stressed during the holiday Him! we can't even say Merry Christmas without a lawsuit follwing it bc we've offended someone.  who are we really offending when we choose to misuse the meaning of Christmas...Him.  and does He get all discombobulated about it? No.  He knew we would screw this thing up long before He even gave Adam and Eve breath...and they both screwed it up...royally!!!

all this buying and stressing...and "happy holidays" and "30% off Holiday Trees" and "Holiday candy"
we make it difficult.  and He still loves us. can you understand and believe that? He still loves us. Still. that's better than any gift i get. He. still. loves. us. you and me. God...still loves us.  does that not blow your mind?
God's gift to us was His Son, Jesus. And we celebrate that gift on a day we call Christmas.  Every Christmas morning, when I'm getting ready, pulling on the new sweater that i probably helped my mom pick out 2 weeks ago as one of my gifts, i sob. not because i look horrible in it ( i picked it's not gonna look horrible. im too picky)  but because i am overwhelemed by the blessing of God. Jesus was born in a barn, lying in a stack of hay. and He saved the world.  and if offends you...your issue is with Him, not me.  ;)

here's a link to a scene from A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus explains the meaning of Christmas.  it gets me every time.  i hope you enjoy...

Merry Christmas.
i swear, i'm not a distant relative of Ebeneezer Scrooge. 

Thursday, December 1, 2011


Guys. I know it's been a few days. I'm sorry. I'm not exactly a full-time blogger. And until i am...I'll continue to update my blog when i feel I have something relevant to share. And this my friends and stalkers and faithful readers, is indeed relevant. ThanksMas is relevant.

It's now an annual event. Because it's in its 2nd year. However, this will be my first ever ThanksMas. It's all the way in the village of Lima. In New York. 6 hours from New York City. 20 minutes from a Wal-mart. Best I can and a pile of my closest friends pack into one of their apartments, eat a feast, reminisce, update our busy lives, play games and watch Christmas movies. I just got super excited.

 I LOVE LOVE LOVE my life here in Michigan. Mostly because I know it's 'home' but most important, because i know i am smack dab in the middle of God's plan for me. But can someone 'amen' a little getting away time??? I will. Amen! I know my expectations for this annual event will be exceedingly met. I am picturing awkward moments over a mouthful of turkey. A glob of gravy that winds up on my shirt even though I don't eat gravy. I am notorious for spilling stuff on my clothes. Hugging my favorite people. Cramming everyone on the floor and couches around a game and movie. And a heart, easily full, of gratitude, for the people God has allowed onto the path of my journey.

 It'll be a short visit (only a weekend) because life doesn't just stop when you're away. Commitments and responsibilities and jobs still exist back home. But it will still be a weekend away from the hustle and bustle and yes, even the stresses of life.

To my New York friends, I miss you. And I love you. And I'll see you on Friday. To my blog-reading friends and followers, thank you for checking in. I'm blown away that anyone would want to read about my life. I hope you continue to read my posts and allow my words to bring, among hopefully many other things, slivers of life, beams of hope and gobs of truth.