A Little Taste of Forgiveness

Sometimes I realize that I take forgiveness for granted.  I guess it’s just so ingrained into my thinking that everyone just knows to forgive and does it.  Yet I have been thrown into a completely different country where what I was taught growing up is not necessarily taught to young people these days.  We had situation happen this week where a boy stepped up on this other boys foot, accidentally of course, but you could tell that it really hurt.  Sorry was said, but the other boy just would not accept it and said ‘Sorry is just not good enough.’  Later on I was walking through the hallway and this same boy came up to me and just continued on talking about what happened and I said ‘Hey you know he said he was sorry, why can’t you forgive and just let it go, it was an accident.’  The boy literally looked at me and said ‘I don’t believe in forgiveness.’  I was taken aback actually and I looked at him and said ‘You don’t believe in forgiveness..so if you had done that to him and you said you were sorry wouldn’t you want him to forgive you?’  ‘No, I would give him 50 p and that would be good enough for me, I don’t need forgiveness.’  Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to continue the conversation since both of us were walking to our mutual classes. I hope later on that somehow I’ll be able to continue on from that conversation where it left off.   It just got me thinking about God and how I am so thankful He does not have that boy’s mindset.  Could you imagine how much I would owe Him if I had to pay 50 p for every sin committed? oy vey!!   The fact is 50 p wouldn’t even cover my sin… I don’t even deserve forgiveness.  All I know is that my sin can’t be payed off by money, or good deeds.  Jesus payed it off for me, by his life.  He took all the ugliness from me,  wiped me clean and forgave me.  Do I deserve it, no.  But God loved me that much.  He loves you that much.  How can we even comprehend a love so great that He sent His son to die so that we would live.    wow…

 

I was reminded from back home about just how God is amazing…by the 5th and 6th graders from Ignite.  How God can do anything and everything.  How he can take a sinner like me and use me in England to do His will.  How He heals and touches lives, how everything is under control and He has each of us in the palm of His hand.  

 

I’m so thankful for everything that He has done, for the people He has brought into my life, for the trips, the experiences that I have been through.  I’m thankful for the hard times, without them I would never grow or have the same relationship that I do now with God.  I’m so thankful for my family, so proud of my family…the strength and courage shown to me each day by my parents.  The friendships I have with my siblings, whom I love so dearly.   I’m thankful for my friends, the laughter and joy each of them bring to my life.  Most of all I am so thankful for my God, that He loved me so much He never let me go.   I’m so blessed beyond measure.

Matters of the Heart

First off I just want to start by saying that it’s quite embarrassing to be dancing in the back of a car with Emily to ‘American Boy’ to find out you have a male audience in the next van over.  A lot of laughter definately followed once we realized we had been caught.

 

I had a wonderful time in Bath, England.   You know I had a fairly decent picture of what it would look like in my head, but when I actually got there..it as more breathtaking then what I had imagined.  The architecture is absolutely stunning, and every building was made from Bath Limestone.  Rachel took me around and showed me the shopping areas, we went past the house that Jane Austen use to live in..number 4.  We also went to the Jane Austen exhibit, where I was contiplating on buying a huge poster of Mr. Darcy…hahaha not!  Though I know that Judy would absolutely have loved it, but it was quite expensive and the Bible says not to have any idols before us… 🙂   We also watched a comedian called Jon Archer, he did a lot of magic tricks also..and you can youtube him if you want.  He was quite funny, I loved his ukelele songs…my favourite was ‘Lazy Man Blues’  to which he sang ‘I woke up in the morning, and went back to bed.’  Another amazing venture we did was the City Sightseeing Tour on the bus…. very informative..very cold, and cold.  We sat on the top of the bus, in the open.  We also toured the Roman Baths which was absolutely brilliant.  I was so mind blown at the history I was walking on, how many 1000’s of years ago it was built and yet was preserved quite magnificently.  We touched the water….it is really warm.   Of course we weren’t allowed too, but it was right there in front of us saying ‘Touch me…touch me’, and everyone else did. hehe I know I know ‘Erin if everyone else jumped of a bridge would you too?’  In this instance… yes.  The most absolutely stunning and breathtaking thing that Rachel was pleased to introduce me too this weekend was ‘Ben’s Cookies’.   The Bath YFC call them Jesus cookies, and I must agree…Rachel and I say that they are the answer to every problem.  Have a bad hair day?  Ben’s Cookies…. Stressed out from work?  Ben’s Cookies… Unrequited love?… Ben’s Cookies.  yep..they are that good.  It was a great time, with a lot of late nights talking in the wee hours of the morning.   Aw yes I just love Rachel..so happy God brought her into my life and that we are friends!

 

Thanksgiving is this week.  It will be weird to be separated from family during this time, I guess I never realized just how much that I cherish the family time we have together during these holidays.  My YfC team is having a Thanksgiving meal with me on Tuesday, which is really nice of them to do.  It actually really touches my heart a lot that they would think of doing this and just taking the time out and making it feel like home for me in England.  I’ve been blessed with such a great group to work with.   I look back on the past year and realize how much I have to be thankful for.  There is just so much that has happened, and I look back and think ‘Wow God.’  What a mighty God we serve.

 

I’ve been kind of moody lately, haha..not gonna lie.  But I love that when I’m moody and I don’t have my classical music playing like I would at home. I can just take out my violin….and play.  Play my heart out, sometimes classical music does wonders to a person.  I love how it soothes.

 

Pastor Adrian has been speaking on ‘The Winning Attitude’ the past month.   It’s been quite challenging for me, and each time I hear what he has to say it really just strikes a chord with me.  I like to think that I have an absolutely brilliant attitude…but sometimes my pride gets the best of me.  It’s interesting though, ever since I’ve gotten here to England I’ve gone through every type of emotion possible.  It seems to be more amplified then usual, quite possibly because I’m in a different territory then normal.  It’s strange when you are completely out of the normal context of your life how your emotions and attitude on things can completely change.  I find that it is quite amazing how we can have a stronghold on the way we speak, act, or think.  It can be quite a bad thing when our mind is locked into one way of thinking or acting.  When we aren’t open to change in those areas.  When you think about it your attitude affects the way you live, how you feel about life.  If you are always down in the dumps, or thinking life sucks…then yeah life is going to suck for you.  It’s not going to change until you change your outlook on life, and realize that the attitude you have chosen isn’t exactly helping.  The only attitude that we should strive to have is the attitude of Christ.  He is the best example ever.  The thing is Jesus came to serve, he had a servant’s heart and if we are to follow his attitude, his example we are going to have to lay down the culture of ‘me’.  That is quite hard, to humble ourselves, to become servant-like especially in this day and age.   We have to apply Him to our lives daily, only then will we really be able to change our attitudes.  The other thing that can affect our attitude is the way we take care of ourselves.  When we are too exhausted and don’t care of ourselves or take time out to just really soak God in, can totally affect the way we live, the way we feel, the way we act towards others.   In the midst of disappointment or heartbreak that’s when we really need to just be with Him.  Jesus went through every type of emotion on this earth, He knows.  God knows, and sometimes when we’re at a loss for words that’s fine….cause all He wants is for us to sit with Him and let His peace float around us.  We have to come near to God, to put our hearts in a place to find Him, and to have an attitude like Jesus.  

“Create in me a clean heart oh God, and renew a right spirit within me.  Cast me not away from thy presence oh Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from me.  Restore unto me the joy of thy salvation, and renew a right spirit within me.”

 

I wrote that last part for me mainly.  It’s a good reminder for me, to daily just soak God in.  My constant prayer is to have a heart like Jesus.  To have the right attitude, the right out-look on life, to not be stressed over things or worried about the future plans I need to make.  I’m here, and I’m living for now, for God.   Sometimes the worries can get quite overwhelming at times but it’s all God’s now.  It’s all God’s. 

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful time with friends and family, and just cherish the moments you have together.  I love you all!

From Russia With Love

By the sound of my title yes you would definately assume I was back in Russia (of course that is where half of the people back home think I am!! hehe)  alas I am not.  BUT I have found the most remarkable store ever created in Long Eaton that opened up recently, a Russian Foodstore called ‘Evelyna’s’!  woot woot!! Happily I say that, and unhappily I don’t know how long they will stay opened….but with my patronage hopefully for a while at least! Ahhh the joys of having russian dumplings, icecream, and carrot salad once again.  I just want everyone to know how much joy this brings to my life.

 

I am back to the normal routine of schools, clubs, brigade, and everything else that gets tossed at me.  So wonderful to be back after that little break.  I can already tell the difference in my attitude with how I treat the ‘opportunities’ I get to help with in the classroom.  At first I was struggling with those boys and it really was hard for me, because I would get soo angry and frustrated with them…especially when they treat me and the teacher so rudely.   I would love to say that I had “Christian-like” thoughts towards them during those times, but that would be a lie.  Now I look at them and all I can feel is love for them,  I’m so thankful that God has overflowing love that He gives us when we struggle the most to find it for a person.  

 

I continue to love helping out at William Sharp.  Ahh yes the joys of city kids, swearing, and pathetic sounding nasal American accents not coming from me.  People really are shocked when I tell them that William Sharp is my favourite class to help out with.  A guy from YFC (doing the same year out as I am) who is from Nottingham always had the impression of William Sharp teens as well….rock throwers,  basically nothing good.  I go into that classroom, and I see the potential they have.  You have to look past the outward stuff, the bad things people notice first, and when you do all you see is a girl or a guy just longing for someone to believe in them, to encourage and give them a chance.  The thing that frustrates me is that I can look across the school area, the areas that seem to be falling apart and well-used, and in the distance I see a college, that looks absolutely well-kept, up-to-date, and from what I hear one of the best colleges to go to in the Nottingham area.  What’s so frustrating is that none of the William Sharp teens really have any expectation of ever being able to go there, and the education they are getting is just enough so that they can pass the certain GCSEs they need to, they aren’t really getting a quality education.   It’s really shameful and quite sad.  I’m happy to say that I get to work with a wonderful teacher who puts stock into each and every one of the teens he works with, he cares for them and what’s happening to them outside school-life, plus he is presenting great opportunities to them with potential work experience.   All I hope is that each of the girls and guys take a firm hold of what is being presented to them, to prove the system and the stereotypes that they have been labeled wrong.  I’ve always believed this and still do, but if we don’t positively invest in the children and young people of today, who do we have to blame but ourselves for how our countries turn out in the future.   

 

The past week was tough for me, because I wasn’t feeling well at all.  It was hard for me to do all the activities and put on my normal happy persona.  When all I wanted to do sometimes was just lay in bed and stay there for hours on end.  Of course when I had my meeting with Rich he told me that I could have called him and said I wasn’t feeling well, reprimand number one.  I felt better by Saturday though.   The whole week though I kept reading Psalms, and verses like 143, 121, 131 would keep popping out at me.  Then on Sunday Pastor Adrian talked on 1 Kings 19 about Elijah being so weary and exhausted that one word from Jezebel made him literally snap and say ‘I have had enough, Lord, take my life..I am no better then my ancestors.’  Could you imagine how tired he had to have been?  Chapters before Elijah was so zealous, putting all he had into everything God told him to do.  During that time ELijah fell asleep and an angel came to him waking him and making him eat to get ready for the journey.  After Elijah traveled to a cave, God appeared to him, not in wind, an earthquake, or in a fire but in a gentle whisper He came. 

 

Everytime I imagine that chapter all I can think is how peaceful it must have been for Elijah, cause he was use to God using fire or something powerful to proclaim His presence, but instead He came to Elijah in a gentle whisper.  After that God provided Elijah with people to take over and care for the situations that had been presented earlier.  God also provided to Elijah, Elisha, to succeed him as prophet.   I just love how it shows God’s compassion and love towards Elijah when he was just so weary and tired, and how He took care of Elijah.  He could have reprimanded Elijah for the state he allowed himself to get in, but He didn’t. 

 

I’ve really been challenged also to put my complete trust in God, to just sit in His presence and soak Him in.  Last night I was up quite late because I just had all these thoughts going through my head with future unknowns, worries, and decisions that will need to be made.  It’s quite irksome really, especially when all I wanted to do was sleep.  My friend sent me a letter which I needed to read this week for sure and it really it affirmed everything I had been reading, the whole King’s chapter, resting in God, and completely trusting Him.   Sometimes it is hard completely trusting Him, because a part of that for me is giving up control which I do enjoy having at times.  But the thing is at the end of the day I really don’t have control.  It’s silly of me to think that I do. 

My friend Kyle had me listen to this song ‘Lead Me to the Cross’ by Brooke Fraser I put the lyrics in for you to read.

Savior I come
Quiet my soul remember
Redemptions hill
Where Your blood was spilled
For my ransom
Everything I once held dear
I count it all as lost

Lead me to the cross
Where Your love poured out
Bring me to my knees
Lord I lay me down
Rid me of myself
I belong to You
Lead me, lead me to the cross

You were as I
Tempted and trialed
You are
The word became flesh
Bore my sin and death
Now you’re risen

To your heart
To your heart
Lead me to your heart
Lead me to your heart

 

Sometimes I get so caught up in myself, my worries, the future….and I forget.  I forget that it’s not about me, and I remember all that God has done.  Fully humbled I lay the control down, and trust God.  I belong to Him.

Walking in Clouds with Fireworks

Tonight I had a later trek home from Nottingham to Long Eaton.  No I didn’t walk that whole way but I stayed in the office till 7:30 discussing ideas for a girl’s club that we will be starting up in Billborough soon.  It was in fact quite foggy and absolutely beautiful in the city at night.  When I finally got off the bus in Long Eaton not only was there fog but people were setting off fireworks!!   So it was quite nice to be walking in the clouds and having fireworks going off all around.

 

The fact of the matter is as I was walking home tonight I was remembering what was happening last year at this time.  It was when I really started to become ill from the gallstones.  Even though at the time I had no idea what it was that was causing me so much pain and making me feel absolutely sick, I was so very scared and just kept thinking if I ignore it whatever it is will go away.   I hit myself as to how stubborn I was to not head to the hospital and get checked out until literally my coworker had to take me to the ER when I had another attack at work. 

 

It’s amazing how much changes in a year.  My hopes were dashed in December when I finally got the official news it was gallstones and had to have surgery.  I never thought that I would be typing this post in England, in fact whenever I imagined myself this time last year I just thought that I would be getting over another holiday at the store, and starting my ritual of putting up Thanksgiving decorations in the deli case.  How God is good!

 

The one thing I remember most though was when I was sitting in my room during a morning before I had to get ready for work, the whole reality of the situation just started to sink in.  The question’s, the financial aspect of how I was going to afford to pay for it all, and the fact of the matter that it was beginning to look like I wasn’t going to England.  It was at that moment where I thought “God where are You?  Why is this happening? What have I done to deserve this?”  and my mom walked into the room, sat down next to me and I just started to cry.  What I remember most is what she said and she said something to the extent of this “Erin, the one thing that your dad and I have learned is that no matter what God has always provided for us, and if He really wants you to go on this trip He will provide. He is always here.”  and when she left I opened up my Bible and turned to the verse that said “For with God nothing will be impossible.” 

 

How true that verse is for me.  The future can be so uncertain at times, but even as I step out and take that leap of faith I know that I have a God who will catch me and guide me through those areas.  I can look back now and see just how He had provided and how He guided me through last year.  And in those times where I struggle the most I know He has me in the palm of His hand.  

 

In that moment tonight as I was walking through the clouds as I like to say fog is, all I could think of was just how fortunate I am.   You know we can worry about the future, we can worry about the uncertainties of life, the state of our countries, who is going to win the election.   The thing though is how much do we let those worries take over our life?  It’s like people stop living and remembering the good that is already in front of them, and only focus on the bad that is happening.  I could have been worried as I was walking through the fog and wondering what would pop out at me at any moment, and if I had I would have missed the beautiful fireworks that were going off above me. 

 

My hope is forever in God, my life, my love.