Thursday, March 31

terrariums are good for the soul.

So far today I've accomplished:

1. breakfast! (unusual.)
2. prayer meeting at work. (convicting.)
3. gardening! (also unusual.)
4. iced coffee! (delicious.)

I'm a big fan of terrariums. I've only ever had one before now, mind you. But I've always liked them - it's contained chaos, which is pretty cool. This morning I planted three, once i realized i had the right ingredients. Hopefully lavender, dill, and columbine will start sprouting soon.

Monday, March 28

what next?

It's monday morning, and I'm back to my usual routine: coffee, pajamas, quiet time, and blogging. Yesterday I ran the half marathon in dallas. It was ... an experience? To run with so many (15,000 to be exact), all running for various reasons and causes, cheered on by so many family and friends. There was a very cool moment when we were all silent, listening and humming the national anthem. It made me thrill at the thought of thousands upon thousands singing in Heaven, all united in the single purpose of glorifying our Redeemer.

Tuesday, March 22

facing the storm

i've taken a morning "off", so to speak. "Off from what?" you ask? I have a to-do list a mile long for personal, work, and HM tasks that need to be accomplished. But last night I sat on my bathroom floor for an hour, praying and thinking about my current roles and how to keep them all afloat. (I did not reach a solution, in case you were wondering.) But i did doodle all over my washing machine as i processed.

Thursday, March 17


Blair proposed to me at sunrise on November 10, 2007. It was the weekend of my 24th birthday, and he had surprised me with a trip to the Schmidt's for the "girlfriend weekend" and going to an apple orchard. I thought that he would propose at the orchard, so when he came into my room at 5:45am saying, "Sweetheart! Come watch the sunrise with me! I have coffee and a blanket..." I definitely did not see a proposal coming. I scrambled into a pair of jeans and sweater, threw my hair into a clip, and managed to slip in contacts before heading out into the freezing Wisconsin air. We sat on a swing, talking about who knows what and sipping scalding hot coffee before he said the words that changed everything: "I want today to mark the beginning of our new life together. Erin, will you marry me?" (at least, i think that's how it went; i'm pretty sure shock set in and i might've screamed? i did communicate "yes" in some form or fashion.)

He slipped this amazing ring on my finger - a design that i had seen and liked, but he went above and beyond the one i saw and had a jeweler custom make this ring. A few minutes later, i saw camera flashes behind me and looked back to see Miss Laurie and Maggie grinning and snapping pictures. (It's then that i regretted my clothing and hair style choice for the morning.)

We were married five months later, on April 18, 2008. We both had our wedding rings made by the same jeweler who made my engagement ring. Blair's ring is a solid white gold with my name, Erin Leigh, engraved on the top. He told me that he wanted the world to know who he was spending the rest of his life with. My wedding band is a simple rope design, with the words "To Be Holy" engraved on the inside. I wanted to remind myself that marriage was more than the sum of dreams and pursuit of happiness - it was a reverent call to be holy, to be made more and more into the likeness of Christ, who loves us and gave himself for us. I am called to follow the leading of Jesus and serve Blair sacrificially, with joy.

About halfway through my pregnancy, I had to remove the rings. I tell you, it was a sad day when pregnancy fat worked it's way into my fingertips. After I had Gwen, I had hoped that the swelling would go down and I could put on my rings. After three months, I had to face the hard facts: it was not just water retention; my fingers were permanently fatter than before. I took them to get resized, and I finally picked them up today.

I've missed my rings. I forgot how pretty they really are. I have definitely missed the "I'm taken" signal they give off... not that I've been hit on or admired, by any stretch. But it just makes me feel good to know that if I was at any point, I could flash my ring finger as if to say, "That's right, buddy. Taken."

On the drive home, I reflected on what my rings mean - the single token that symbolizes my commitment to love, serve, cherish, admire, uphold, protect, and sacrificially love my spouse. I wish I could remember our vows that we made on April 18, 2008. I don't, and for some very annoying reason, I cannot seem to find the actual vows wherever they are lost in my house. But this I know - what we vowed that day has been lived out for every second of every minute of the last 2 years and 11 months, to the day. Imperfectly, yes. But I love him more today than I thought possible 3 years ago. And I've grown in my comprehension of the characteristics of Love. By the grace of God, our covenant of 2 years and 11 months stands -- without amendments, additions, or excuses.

Reflecting on my wedding day with Blair and our relationship caused me to think about Christ and His bride, the Church. And I created "vows" for Jesus, and what I believe He says to me:

"I will always protect you. I will serve you. I give my life for you. I will always forgive you. I will never hold on to anger with you. I will communicate with you. I will respond when you call. I will provide for you. I will comfort you. I will counsel you. I will create beauty in you. I will lead you. I will never fail you. Even when you fail me, hate me, question me, despise me, ignore me, hurt me - I will never leave you. I will never give up. Nothing can take you away from me. I will love you, unendingly."

Thank You for loving me incomprehensibly, for pursuing me when I was dead to you, pushing you away, rejecting and despising you. Thank you for covenanting with me, accomplishing what I could never do and creating a union that will never fade or be corrupted. 

Tuesday, March 15

chapter 11

I need to start tagging my posts... since i'm pretty sure that this journey is a spiral, and the things i say and conclusions i come to are cyclical.

I've been reading through John for my quiet times. The character of the Lord is so difficult for me to grasp, especially since Jesus' earthly ministry was jam-packed with miracle after miracle, which we don't always see today.

Some observations from John 11:

1) The sisters believed that on the basis of Jesus' love for Lazarus, he would come to them quickly and heal their brother. (11:3) Not an absurd belief at all - I do that every day. Because Blair loves me, I have certain expectations for his actions towards me. If i didn't believe that Blair's love translated to everyday realities, I would have a very low, disconnected view of our marriage and his affection for me. Jesus' love has implications in our day to day life. But i also have a narrow view of what His love for me should look like: I want His love for me to feel soft, to be easy, to always be about comforting me and giving me what I think I need. (there's an ugly, honest truth.)

2) Jesus is about the glory of God. (11:4) and not unfeelingly - He just sees a greater picture than we can see, and He does not stop at what would solely fulfill our emotional desires, but goes beyond that to meet both: the glory of God and the redemption of Man.

3) Jesus purposefully re-enters a city that's dangerous for Him. (11:7) He walks confidently into danger, persecution, reviling, because it is the will of God and He values God and His glory over Himself.

4) Jesus refers to physical death as sleep. (11:11) He sees it as a transient state - true death is separation from God for an eternity.

5) Jesus intimates that healing does not always lead to belief (11:15). I think Jesus rejected sensationalism, and didn't want a fan crowd that only followed Him because He did the miraculous. Jesus could've been present in Bethany and healed a very sick Lazarus. But He held back. Why? Because He wanted Martha, Mary, His disciples, and the crowd to know that He is the Resurrection and the Life.

(Here's where i'm pausing in my study.) Would I have simply given glory to God if He had healed Gwen? Would my life had continued as it was, with her birth experience being just a hiccup and a scare? Would I have been changed? Would my desire to know God be fueled? Would my passion for others to have hope been recharged? Would I long for heaven?

and what about Gwen? Did Jesus in His love for Gwen keep her where she is??? Because He sees Heaven, knows how much better it is than anything the world could offer... than I could offer, and wants that for her? Did the dead who rose in the Bible times really enjoy being brought back into this life? Did they not feel cheated out of paradise for the time being?

Just food for my thoughts.

Saturday, March 12

Running Purposefully

"So I do not run aimlessly..." is Paul's concluding sentence in his argument for his strenuous efforts for the promotion of the gospel. (see 1 Corinthians 9:26)

I have to say, I run aimlessly a lot. Or my aim is for very small, inconsequential things, such as getting rid of pregnancy fat and adding extra endorphins into my system. I started running after Christmas, and set my sights on doing thirteen miles in the Dallas Rock and Roll Half Marathon on March 27.

(Yes, that's right. March 27. That's fifteen days away.)

I've hesitated on asking for sponsors and running for a cause. So many of my good friends, some of them running with me, are already running for great organizations. So instead, I decided to stick my neck out there and run my little heart out for no glorified purpose (heavy sarcasm).

I don't want to run aimlessly. I don't want my efforts, whether they be physical, emotional, spiritual - to be aimless or without a divine, eternal purpose. Who, in their right mind, strives for things that fade? So in fifteen days, I will run for what I believe is imperative for all women - the hope of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, through the vehicle of Hope Mommies.

I'm actually pretty excited about this now, since I want to make a shirt that will get the 10,000 poor souls running with me to think as they go flying by.

I haven't set a financial goal. I'm nervous. okay, mostly i'm faithless. I don't want to set something too high, and be disappointed. But I don't want to be faithless either, and ask God for something that is "manageable" on human terms. I believe that God will, with funds or without, build Hope Mommies. It's definitely His mission, not my agenda.

But I invite you to participate with Him and us as we strive purposefully for His truth and hope to be known. Pledge whatever the Lord puts on your heart. Pray for Hope Mommies. Earnestly pray. and if you're in the Dallas area on March 27, come cheer us on, please. :) and if you're interested in pledging, shoot me an email at

"I do it all for the sake of the gospel, that I may share with them in its blessings." 1 Corinthians 9:23

Friday, March 11


i'm attempting to "simmer down" and breathe. i came home last night from a five day kayaking trip, slept wonderfully, awoke to the sound of my chickens squawking, and got to the busyness of my day. i'm on my  ___ cup of coffee (number unknown), and my scattered thoughts range from the smell of basil in my house, to what the heck am i doing starting a non-profit, to summer camp t-shirts, laundry, my family coming down, and back around again.


where am i really, God? I feel like i've been a little energizer bunny, going and going without knowing how my heart is doing, with emotions bubbling under the surface but never having time to slow down and work through them. or even bring them out to acknowledge, "oh wow. look at that, i feel anxious because ____."

(breathe. collect.)

i had a meltdown in my kayak in the last 3 miles of our 60 mile trip. why, you ask? because God didn't change the wind (and a mound of reasons underneath that.) After a beautiful four days of kayaking, we had only a few more miles before arriving at the boat ramp. We were in the middle of a wide canyon, facing a headwind that i put 100% effort into and moved about 4 inches. irritation, to the max. I was by myself in my kayak, spaced out about a quarter mile between people, praying that the Lord of the Earth would stop the wind and waves. Or at least reverse it so it was a tailwind. But He did neither. So like the disciples, I started crying, "Don't you care???" (Mark 4:38)

Don't you care that I'm not moving at all? Don't you care that I have a hard time knowing You, pursuing You, trusting You? Don't you care that I'm trying really hard to stay faithful, and I don't feel like You're faithful to me? Don't you care that I feel lost? Alone? Discouraged? Overlooked? Overwhelmed? Don't You care about my heart? Why don't You care?"

(cue crying. and yelling in the wind.)

I pulled over to the side of the canyon and towed my boat behind me. I caught up to the group eventually. My mind replayed, "You don't care," a thousand times.

and i'm stuck, Lord, wrestling with what it means to earnestly seek You, believing that You will make yourself find-able. I have felt so unloved by You. I feel like You just keep telling me, "Press on! Persevere! Keep going!" without saying, "I love You sweetheart. I'm for you. I'm with you. I will protect you. I will keep you."

This morning in the shower I picked up the fight where we left off yesterday. (maybe it's a water thing.) and immediately You said, "I scream 'I love you!' from the cross." What more am I asking of you, really? Am i expecting you to make life a bundle of happiness, without any of the tribulation that you promised? Am i expecting you to rescue me from every challenging situation, or emotional or spiritual hurdle? That's not your style. You're about my growth. You're about me turning more and more into your own likeness, the likeness of your Son who died. for me. died. died. Do i even get that? (no.)

Lord, I'm sorry. I do want it easy. In so many ways, I feel like I deserve a free pass on the rest of life's disappointments and sorrows. and i'm an idiot, who looks in the mirror and immediately forgets what she looks like when she walks away. You do answer. You do restore. You do love me. I just forget, God.

(breathe. rest. walk.)

Saturday, March 5

Nueces Trail Run

well i raced a 10k trail run this morning! and you know what? i actually enjoyed it. i know. ME! i hate running! (and i still hold to that.) but somehow the trail run... or maybe it was the racing part? was enjoyable. Blair got first place overall! and I got 5th place in the women's category, out of 27 women. so i'm good with that. :) perhaps now the 1/2 marathon won't be too daunting??

Surprisingly, around the 4th mile i had this song spring in my head, replaying over and over while running. i'm pretty sure it was buried deep somewhere in my psyche, since it definitely isn't part of my normal repertoire. :) enjoy!

Friday, March 4

lessons from my girl

Hi sweetheart.

it's a friday, and i'm hiding out in the house for the morning. It's been a busy, hectic week and I'm craving solitude and time alone with Jesus.

I miss you, sweetheart. I'm assuming that you know that by now, but in case you forget or think that i'll just tag it on to the end of my letter as an afterthought - you're in every thought. i miss your presence at every moment. what i'm not experiencing with you is before me, at every time of the day.

this morning i had a sweet realization - your friend Mandy and i were writing, and i realized that how i speak with her is how i hope i'll speak with you someday. and with your siblings, if the Lord wills for us to have more children. she's ten years younger, but still my friend.

you make me love Jesus more, gwenny. I didn't know what it would be like to feel more love for Jesus, but you give me glimpses of what that looks like. I've read about people really in LOVE with Jesus and kindof  thought they were crazy, or that that kind of passion is so heavenly that I won't feel it until I get there. But knowing how I love you has made loving Him more tangible. For example:

Your name is precious to me. I love to write it. I love seeing it. Putting your name on something gives it more value to me (my necklaces, your scrapbook, etc.) If anyone were to use it casually, or treat it irreverently, i would definitely sin in some way (curse them, slap them, murder them in my heart...).  And not because your name is some powerful word on it's own (even though it is beautiful), but because it's yours. it's what i call you. and YOU are my precious daughter.

Jesus' name means more to me now. I want to love His name the way I love yours. I want to be offended when people use it casually. I am learning more and more what it means to pray in the name of Jesus - to pray what I think He wants, what is His will, what will glorify Him. I would never casually tack your name onto my grocery list of needs - why should I do that with His? If I were representing you, I would make sure that I what I was pleading for was pure, right, and holy; making you not ashamed to be called my daughter.

You're on my mind, ALL the time. Like C.S. Lewis wrote, "Your absence is the sky, spread over everything." and some days the sky is overcast, and some days it is bright blue, full of hope and laughter. but missing you eclipses every moment.

Having you always on my mind has made me aware of two things: one, praying ceaselessly IS possible. I now know what it feels like to be in constant communion and meditation. and two, Jesus is over all. He's in everything, every moment, Lord of every situation, conversation, decision. Like i told you in the hospital, He created everything - everything is by Him, for Him, and held together in Him. I understand His nearness and involved-ness in a new way.

Thank you for teaching me what it means to long for the Lord, gwendolyn. You are my precious daughter, and I am blessed and humbled to be your mom. I'm eagerly awaiting the day when I get to hold you again.

Love you deeply, more than you'll ever know.


Tuesday, March 1

heirs of the earth

This morning i decided to use a devotional book as a supplement to my quiet time, to kick start me back into study since i've been coasting the past week or so. I have a devotional by Nancy Leigh DeMoss that works through the Psalms, so I opened up to the next one in queue: Psalm 51, David's famous "forgive me" psalm after his affair with Bathsheba and murder of Uriah.

And immediately I thought, "oh rats. I was hoping for a better one; this doesn't apply to me." (warning sirens should've sounded in my brain, but they didn't.)

So as I'm working through it, the Lord began to highlight things in me, ugly things that I wish weren't a part of my processing:

1. The "why me?" victim mentality I've frequently entertained since Gwendolyn died,
2. The audacity and pride that I've held before the Lord; "Sin isn't my issue; your will is."

Why not me? Why not me, out of the 15 other pregnant women I knew in 2010? Why am I anything different, that I "deserve" a healthy, happy daughter? Why do i elevate myself above pregnant teens, neglectful parents, abusive parents, parents on drugs?

Have I made wise decisions, preparing me for motherhood?
yes, by the grace of God. 

Did I enjoy a healthy, drug free pregnancy?
yes, by the grace of God.

Will I ever hurt or neglect my children?
no, by the grace of God.

My ability to be a better mom is not my own doing; it is by the grace of God. And while it is so difficult for me to swallow that the Lord gives precious babies to irresponsible women, and not to me - it's not for me to decide. it's not for me to point my finger, to elevate myself, to decide who is deserving and who is not. How can I know what God is doing in that woman's life? perhaps that baby is His redemption.

And what am i deserving of? An eternity of suffering - an endless October 20th. But by the grace of God, I am what I am: saved. forgiven. redeemed. chosen. blessed. hopeful.