Loss and Gain


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Do you see yourself in Scripture? I do– so often. Sometimes I recognize myself in Peter’s brash confidence, sometimes in Moses’ fear and doubt about his usefulness. Sometimes I recognize myself in the pages of Proverbs, but not often in the last chapter.

Most recently, I found myself in Philippians, sitting with Paul–

 For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless.

We were studying this passage in Sunday School, and I realized I could write the Good Baptist Girl version of these verses:

Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: In church when I was three days old, saved at five, baptized at eight; a Christian of Christians; as to education, Christian school AND Bible college; as to zeal, a pastor’s kid AND pastor’s wife AND a homeschooling mother; as to the righteousness that looks so good on the outside, practically perfect in every way.

Sounds go great, huh? Paul calls that stuff worthless. All of it. Rubbish. Dung.

 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ  and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith

Paul counted all his credentials as trash. Everything that should have been in the “stuff I have going for me” column, he put in the “stuff I have against me” column instead. Because He knew what I’m learning– that those of us who have had the blessing of growing up in a Christian home, Christian school, Christian everything tend to think we pretty much have this whole Christianity thing down. And it’s such a lie. All that– that’s just an outward garment. That’s not even what God looks at when He looks at us. He looks at our hearts. And there have been so. many. times. in my Christian walk that I have looked so great on the outside and have been so gross inside.

None of my own outward righteousnesses– the accomplishments of my flesh– count as anything when I stand before Christ. The righteousness that matters comes from Him and depends on faith, not on my pedigree as a good minister’s wife.

For those of you who were saved at a later age, who had more time to experience the ravages of sin, this probably doesn’t come as a big surprise. But to me, it was quite the revelation. We do so like our high horses of righteousness, our fleshly confidence. But it’s all loss, all rubbish compared to what Paul was seeking–

that I may know him and the power of his resurrection

See, the problem with resting on my righteous accomplishments is that they are like this big protective wall I build around myself. But the joy of truly knowing Jesus is on the other side of that wall. The only way to see Him, to know Him, to experience His power in my life to change and revive me and do something amazing, is by HIS righteousness, not mine. My wall has to come down, to be pulled to the ground in submission to His holiness.

Don’t get me wrong; I’m thankful every day that God protected me from a past that’s full of grievous sins and the heartache they bring. I’m thankful for the sacrifice my parents made to put me through Christian school, for the years spent at Bible college, for so many years even as a child spent in church and Sunday School and Wednesday night programs. I’m just now coming to appreciate the Bible knowledge I gained from all of that, the unique worldview I have, the many tools I have been given to study and teach the Bible. What a blessing. I’m thankful for the fact that most of my friends during my growing up years were believers, that I was sheltered from so many of the horrors of sin, that I was given the structure to build a godly life on.

But my point is just this: when all is said and done, I need Jesus, and that’s all. And anything– anything– even the best thing– that stands in the way of my walk with Jesus is rubbish. It needs to go.

Because on the hard days, it definitely isn’t a Bible college education or being the pastor’s wife that gets me through the deep valleys of pain and shadow. What can get me through these hard, hard days is my Savior, who loves me, who sees me, who carries me and shelters me and guides me.

What a privilege. By laying down all my pretty Christian trappings, I can know Him. I can know His power and even share in His sufferings, and I can gain everything. Because that’s what my Lord is– He’s just Everything.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. . . . Our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.

Oh, I just can’t wait to see Him face to face. But until then, I will lay down whatever I must to know Him. Because He’s worth it.

It Is Well


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It became one of my favorite hymns during my freshman year of college– half my life ago. We would gather together and my friend Jonathan would play his guitar and we’d all sing, and I’d close my eyes and sing the harmony and feel the peace of the words wash over me– “It is well with my soul.”

I had no idea what those words meant. Truly.

I guess I loved the music and the peaceful feeling it gave me as we sang together. But that’s not what those words meant. And they also aren’t a mantra, that if you repeat will eventually come true.

It is well, it is well with my soul . . . and that’s an order!

Sometimes I would feel guilty when I sang it, as I got older, and I knew things weren’t right with me; I felt like I was missing out on some kind of peace that every other Christian had found, that those words meant that it was well with my life.

And you know, sometimes it’s not well with my life.

Even in college, when my biggest problems were roommate drama and the boy I liked not liking me, I knew then it wasn’t always well with my life.

When I started spotting during my first pregnancy, and we feared miscarriage . . . when we had a bad phone connection and I was crying and yelling into the phone to my ob/gyn that I was so afraid– it wasn’t well with me. (That baby will be thirteen in December!)

When I found myself unexpectedly pregnant, when I was so very ill and afraid that I had hurt my baby with my arthritis medicine before I even knew he was coming . . . when I finally came to peace with the pregnancy and went to a routine exam and there was no heartbeat, no life . . . when I woke up from the blessed oblivion of my D&C and the memory of what had happened came back to me and I wept in the recovery room– it wasn’t well with me, though God was nearby.

For so many years I sang that song and loved it and yet at the same time didn’t understand it, because I thought it was saying that “no matter what happens, I’m good,” and I knew this truth– I’m not good all the time. And that knowledge left me feeling guilty and despairing when I faced hard times, because I felt this horrible fear that I was missing out on some important part of the Christian life.

And then, last year in Sunday school, we were studying John’s epistles, and we came to the little book of 3rd John, and I read this: “ Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.” And I had this brain-lightbulb-epiphany thing when I realized that what John was saying is that he knew it was well with his friend’s soul, even though he had no idea what was going on in his friend’s life.

Somehow I had gotten this idea in my head that It is well with my soul meant It is well with my life. I’m doing good, you know? But that’s exactly what it doesn’t mean. It is well with my soul means exactly that– that my soul is safe. Nothing can harm it. The inner part of me– my true self– has been redeemed and sealed. It is “hidden with Christ in God” as Colossians 3:3 says.

Whatever is happening around me– when nothing is well with my heart, my mind, my circumstances– when I’m a complete disaster and everything is falling apart– it is well with my soul. Nothing can change that.

Two miscarriages can’t change that.

Financial difficulties can’t change that.

My rebellion against the King of my life can’t change that.

My foolish seeking after earthly pleasures can’t change that.

My lack of understanding can’t change that.

Grouchy kids, broken vehicles, expensive groceries– none of them can change that.

Discouragement and depression and physical pain and sleepless nights cannot change it.

The death of a friend, the loss we can’t explain, the ongoing recurring theme in my Facebook feed these days of cancer, cancer, cancer– cannot change this fact:

That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate
And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
It is well, it is well with my soul.

My life is hidden, safe in God’s presence, in the hands of Jesus Christ. Nothing can pull me from Him; nothing can pluck me from His hands; nothing can separate me from His life. And if you know Him as your Savior, then it is true for you as well.

Take a deep breath, and let this understanding change your heart as it has changed mine. It’s okay to grieve, to recognize you’re not okay, to be in a bad, hard, miserable place, and to admit that. For so many years I thought I had to be strong, thought my negative emotions were somehow a sign that I was not right with God. That was a lie, and here is the truth:  Regardless of what you face today, regardless of the sorrow, heartache, fear, desperation, agony, irritation, exhaustion– if you are in Christ then the most important part of you is held unmoving in the palm of the hand of the One who loves you more than His own life. And it may not be okay today, or tomorrow, or for a long time– not with your body or your mind or your heart.

But it is well with your soul. And one day, because of that, it will be well with every part of you.

Truly, it is well with my soul.


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Sonnet of Seasons
Erin Kilmer

timeFor everything on earth there is a time–
A season to be born, and one to die;
A time for laughter and a time to cry;
A day to fall and weep, a day to climb.

We do not always see the coming spring
When we are lying cold in winter’s fist.
When round our hearts lays death’s gray, chilling mist,
We cannot feel the warmth the sun will bring.

God pledges good that now waits out of sight
And life that rests securely in His hand.
Nothing can happen that He has not planned,
Shadows will disappear in heaven’s Light.

Now darkly, through a glass, is how we see;
But in His time, all beautiful will be.


For Brian, newly born in Christ on October 15th, 2015,
and for Chris, gone home to be with His Savior on the same day.
Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall be comforted.

Faith, Obedience, and the Next Step


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Lately I’ve been feeling a tug at my heart– a call. Write. Write. Write.

I’ve been avoiding it. I’m so busy. So tired. I have three kids, all homeschooled. We are busy with church, with school, with lessons and classes and so much laundry. Life is so full, so crazy. But still, in the quiet moments, there was that nagging voice– You need to write.

I would sit down here, or sometimes with a notebook, and try. I’ve written whole blog posts that I never hit “publish” for. I’ve written half of about forty really great poems. I’ve thought of awesome ideas while driving home from the grocery store, only to have them gone five hours later when I finally had time to open my laptop.

The sensation that I needed to write– perhaps was being called to write– never went away.

Last week, my friend Corinne posted this on her Facebook:

It happens in the moments between administering cold remedies and finishing off oats in the oven… Between stirring granola and readying a chicken in the crock pot, cutting carrots and potatoes, sprinkling paprika and dousing with pepper. It happens if you let it. If you prepare for it. If you get out the paper and pen and let your tools taunt you a bit… Goad you into a practice that maybe seems like it’s lapsed a bit, or even seems pointless. It’s not. It can happen on a sick day, on a good day, on a busy or dull day. Make that tiny bit of space for it, and begin. Again. Always. Even the tiniest effort counts. Remember that.

And the nagging whisper became a louder voice, though still not as loud as my screaming daughter or the buzzing of the washing machine or the ding of the microwave or three kids all asking for math help at once. But louder.


And I don’t know why, because our society is glutted with words– so many words– and there are so many authors out there writing what I want to say (on the days I can even figure out what I want to say) and doing it better than I can do. I don’t know why. I just know that when I spend my time with Jesus in the morning, and I follow a pattern for prayer– Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication— and I come to the confessing and I pray “Search me, oh God,” and over and over again the word is in my head– write, write, write— well, eventually I can take a hint.

So yesterday I prayed. I don’t know what to write. I want to obey You, but every time I try I have no words. Show me what to write. Show me when. Show me how. Make it clear.

And then it was. If you’re not used to talking with God like this then you’re probably thinking I’m crazy. God has so many ways of answering me, and one of the ways He does it is just by placing an urgent thought in my head. I’ve learned to stop and listen when He does that. One time it was bake bread. You need to bake bread. And I was like, “whatever, it’s Sunday afternoon, pizza night, I don’t feel like baking bread.” And an hour later I became aware of a need– a need for a meal– and guess who didn’t have any bread? And guess who got to stay up baking French bread till 11:30 on Sunday night?

All I’m saying is, when God says Go I am learning to do it. And yesterday, the urgent thought was Write about playing piano. I’ve sat down and tried to write about it before, but the words would never come. And then, last night– they did. And this morning I was overwhelmed when I read the responses on my Facebook page about yesterday’s post.

Overwhelmed because God knew that there were people who read my blog who needed that, right then. Not my words– but the testimony of God’s work in my life– and I’m the only one who can share that. And today, I’m sharing this because this is what I believe– God orchestrates whole long series of events to reach one heart at just the right time. Writer’s block and busy life and so many, many things He’s been doing in my heart that I haven’t talked about at all in this space. All that. So that the day I sit down to write is the day it needs to be said.

Maybe it needed to be said to you. I know it needed to be said to me.

Maybe we both need the reminder that growth and change are hard and humbling, but they are so good. Maybe we both need the reminder that God has a purpose, a plan, and it’s good and it’s going to bring Him so much glory.

Maybe we both need the reminder tonight (because I know I do) that my obedience about playing the piano in 2013 isn’t today’s obedience. Today there is something new. Surrender happens a day at a time. The faith to move forward, to obey, to listen to that voice– that happens today. Yesterday’s victories are beautiful, but they’re not pillows to nap on. They pave the pathway for today’s battles.

So I’m encouraging you tonight, and preaching to myself as well. Say yes to the quiet voice. Do the hard thing, the humiliating thing, the dangerous thing, the heartbreaking thing, the thing that makes your knuckles white with gripping fear. Do it. Not because I said so, but because you have no idea today what the end of the story is. But if you’re obeying the Spirit in your life, then the end of the story is good.

Because it’s right there in the title of my blog: God works all things together for good to those who love Him, who are the called according to His purpose.

We are the called. Let’s answer.

How Becoming the Church Pianist Changed My Life


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When I was sixteen, I took piano lessons for about a year from a dear older lady named Doris who gave lessons for free to anyone who would help clean the church building. Then she wanted me to start doing scales, and I quit.

I’ve never been one for follow-through.

When God called us to Teensy Town Baptist Church, I was so thankful that He had led us to a church with a pianist. I’m not saying it would have been a deal breaker, but without a pianist I would have had such a hard time submitting to this call. People think the pastor’s wife is supposed to play piano, you know? So many do. My skill, however, was limited to plinking out the alto line when I took my choir music home, a moving rendition of “Heart and Soul” (in which I could play either part! Because skill!), and a version of “My Jesus I Love Thee” that I had been playing exactly the same since I graduated from high school in 1997. Sometimes I could get really fancy and play both the alto and the soprano lines of a piece of music, if the music didn’t have more than one flat or sharp.

donnaSo I was really glad that Teensy Town Baptist had a pianist, a lovely older lady named Donna who could play straight out of the hymnbook like magic.


Hymnbooks are hard. I should know. I’m the church pianist.

Less than a year after we moved to Teensy Town, Donna passed away very unexpectedly. This was not in my plans. My plans involved her playing forever, or until she surrendered the reins to my son the Angry Ranger, who is a very talented pianist but who, in fourth grade, wasn’t quite ready to take over the Sunday morning playing yet.

God ruined my plans when He took Donna home so unexpectedly. And suddenly I had two options– I could sing really really loud and lead the singing with my voice (because that’s what happens in our church if we don’t have a piano player), or I could get up there every Sunday morning and “play.”

I started by just playing the melody line, and I could only play songs in the keys of C, F, and G. In other words, about six songs in our hymnbook. Then I started trying to play out of Angry Ranger’s easy piano books. I would practice all week on our broken, out-of-tune piano, and on Sunday mornings in front of our little crowd my hands would shake, I would mess up over and over again, and by the end I would feel like throwing up.

I hated it so much. I can’t even describe it. But somehow I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that God wanted me up there, hitting the wrong notes with my shaking fingers, losing my place, fumbling and failing. Because I had told Him that I was willing to do anything except that. I would teach and I would sing and I would clean toilets and bake meatloaf and lead Bible study but I WOULD NOT PLAY PIANO, thankyouverymuch.

Partial surrender isn’t really surrender at all. And as God met me in my weakness and taught me that the world wouldn’t end if I humiliated myself in front of our church family (who were never anything but supportive and generous in their praise), He was starting to teach me what surrender really was. In fact, He was starting me on a spiritual journey to His heart. Of course, I had no way of knowing that.

Several months after I took over piano duties at our church, I stumbled across a way of playing that is totally cheating, but totally worked for me. I discovered that I could play the guitar chords on my left hand and the melody on my right hand, and it sounded almost like a real pianist. At least, it sounded a lot better than whatever I had been doing before. And my brain could handle processing that a lot better than it could process two staffs and all those notes and everything. And through it all our church people cheered me on, prayed for me, and never once complained about the sour notes or the limited songs I could play.

I learned something about myself as I crashed and stumbled on those keys each Sunday– I am just so full of pride. I hated it so much because I knew I wasn’t good, and I didn’t like doing something I wasn’t good at in front of an audience. If I was going to play, I wanted to be awesome, and if I couldn’t be awesome, I didn’t want to play at all.

pianistCan I just say that face to face with your own ugly pride is not a fun place to be standing? But I am so thankful God brought me to that place, because He didn’t leave me there. He taught me that He doesn’t want or require a highly skilled musician at that piano each Sunday– He wants me, because in my weakness His strength can be shown forth. He taught me– is still teaching me, if I’m honest– that I need to be playing for an audience of ONE. He taught me that I could go on with life even if (when) I totally botched three out of the four hymns AND the offertory. And that He could be glorified. And that others could be blessed and challenged.

And then, as God worked in my heart to bring me to a place of submission and humility before Him, He unveiled my eyes to see the gift I have been given. I began to love playing the piano. I began to play as an act of worship, to play for fun. I began to compose songs. I began to push myself to learn harder music, to force my fingers onto those black keys. One day I realized that I could play many of the songs in our hymnbook, even without the chord notations.

He never gives bad gifts, you know. Or maybe you don’t. I certainly looked at the gift of our church piano with fear and anger and bitterness. But it was a gift, and it was a good gift, a beautiful one, one that opened up my heart to my loving Father more, that made me learn to trust Him and His plan. It started me on a spiritual journey– into humility, into daily prayer, into obedience– that promises deeper relationship, deeper faith. It has made me more aware of the walls I put up, and more willing to be open and vulnerable with those around me.

I don’t know what heaven is like, not really, but in my imagination, Doris and Donna have become fast friends who spend a lot of time laughing at my foolish, bad-tempered, unwilling obedience, and who are looking on with joy as they see what God has done in spite of it.

Because becoming the church pianist changed my life. Well, God changed my life. You know what I mean.

Dance of Change


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I go back and I read entries in this blog, and I laugh at the memories of the little boys I used to have– little boys who built snowmen out of grass and stripped naked and ran gleefully around the backyard– little boys who have, somehow, between now and then, grown up so much.


I don’t know what happened. I know this is the cry of mothers through all of time– how did that tiny, snuggly, soft baby I swaddled and rocked and cried with turn into this– person? Suddenly their shoes look like their dad’s shoes, not like baby shoes. And their jeans are ridiculously long, and I’m accidentally handing my oldest a sweatshirt that turns out to be mine. Suddenly I look at my three children and realize the baby years are done, the preschool years are gone. The onesies and diapers and the ruffle-bottomed tights are gone.


They have been replaced by something– good, I think. It’s just so different. Right now it’s all jokes about bodily functions and smells from bodily functions and hysterical laughter at bodily functions and– well, the boys are 10 and 12, with birthdays looming, so you can imagine. My daughter dresses up as a princess sometimes, as a ballerina sometimes, as a doctor sometimes. Her legs won’t stop growing and the shorts I said were okay back in May now make me cringe now, in the middle of September. She makes jokes about bodily functions too, even as she poses for a fabulous picture in her sparkly tutu and her pink stethoscope and demands that we call her “Doctor Princess Elsa.” There are dangers to having big brothers.


One hates carrots and wearing blue jeans. One hates sandwiches and fractions. One obsessively stalks the neighbors’ every move through the front window and has already mastered the duck face, which she says is “fabulous.”


One plays piano and one plays guitar and one wraps her daddy around her finger and talks about what instrument she’ll learn when she’s in second grade– most days deciding on the cymbals, because apparently she thinks our house is not loud enough.


One practices spelling and one studies computer programming and one sighs heavily over the terrors of 5+4 and 6+3, and I try to keep track of all of it and try to remember to hug and encourage and protect and love, because my time is so limited– so limited. So many days I fail.


We dance this complicated, ever-changing dance of life and growth, and sometimes it slows down for just a minute and we see, in a breathless moment of time, that we are moving forward– marching inexorably on– learning as we go. And if we linger in that moment of clarity, we might just see the beauty that is being woven in the midst of the small sorrows of growth and letting go, the great fears of the unknown future, the daily mundane living, the adventures and the milestones. This is how it is meant to be– always changing, shifting, growing.


And as they change and shift and grow around me– and as the face in the mirror changes too– I am grateful for my God who never changes, who placed me in the center of this good life.

“I am the LORD; I change not.”


My Hope


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My Hope

faint fringes sunset

My God is good and He is wise.

When pain cuts deep and all hope dies,

This world’s aches bid me hide my eyes;

But God is good and He is wise.

My God is wise and holds me near.

When my mind quakes with awful fear,

When agony brings me to tears,

My God is wise and He is near.

My God is near and guides my way

Through thorny nights and stormy days.

Bless Him—He gives and takes away;

My God is near and guides my way.

My God guides me with His good hand.

I fall in grief in this dark land,

But by His grace I know I’ll stand

And walk—led by my good God’s hand.

faint fringes mothLed by His hand I’ll see His face—

How wise His way; how rich His grace!

All sorrows gone, all tears erased;

All fades before that glorious face.

poem copyright 2015 by Erin Kilmer
photographs copyright 2015 by Irv Cobb




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My high school class is planning a little get-together for next weekend. Not an official reunion, you know, just a “Hey guys, who’s available to get together on Saturday and hang out? Bring your kids . . .” sort of thing.

It’s amazing how something this simple can bring up all the insecurities I thought I was past.

I graduated from high school in 1997– that’s 18 years ago, for those of you who stink at math. Half my life has happened since graduation– by far the best half. I found my people in college– the people who were so scarce in high school– and I thrived. I found a man who loved and accepted the person I was– the person who was just a big ball of neurotic insecurity wrapped up in a chubby, loud, crazy-girl persona. I guess at some point I decided that if I couldn’t be the pretty one, I was going to be the fun and funny one.

16 years of being loved by a godly man, of walking with God and with that man through tragedy and grief, of seeing the path of our lives carefully laid before our unsteady feet, of choosing to face the “for worse” and the “in sickness” with inappropriately-timed humor, of always holding hands and saying “I love you” so we don’t end up like those people on TV who fail to say it and then die tragically before they can make things right– well, that kind of love gives a woman a confidence she might not have had before.

Since my high school graduation I have graduated again and watched my husband graduate three times. I have been pregnant five times and given birth to three children, whom I have raised with a certain amount of success to their current ages. I have been to China, to Mount Rushmore, to the Space Needle, to the St. Louis Arch, to a whole bunch of little Baptist churches in small Iowa towns. I have learned to cook from scratch, to French braid, to teach high school English, to play piano, to laugh (sometimes) at times to come. I have read hundreds of books, traveled hundreds of miles, taught one and a half children to read, two children to do long division, and three children to pee in the toilet. I have changed diapers and cleaned up vomit in the middle of the night, stressed over money and calories and weird rashes and potty training. I have thrown balls, danced princess dances, gone to recitals, held kids down during shots, argued with insurance companies, scrubbed out toilets with toothbrushes.

I have walked with God, by His grace, and learned that His goodness and sufficiency are so much greater than I ever could have understood at eighteen. I have experienced mercy, forgiveness, victory, and the overwhelming love of a Father for His precious child. I have experienced doubt, rebellion, defeat, and distance. I have always been brought home. I know who God says I am in Jesus, and I believe it– I am Redeemed, Beloved, Accepted, Adopted, Chosen, Precious, and Victorious. My identity is in Him.

So tell me why a simple “Hey guys, let’s get together” has me all in a tizzy? It reveals something about my heart– that in spite of what I just said about my identity, I am still afraid of what others think about me. I was not the cool kid in high school. My family moved when I was 16 and my whole life changed dramatically. I moved away from friends I loved and who accepted me no matter what, to a place where I knew no one. I wasn’t accepted there.

The two and a half years I attended that school were probably the worst two and a half years of my life. I was an overweight nerd in a pretty serious rebellion against my parents. I went to a Christian school and I wasn’t trying very hard to look like a good Christian girl, so I didn’t fit in with the cool kids. That’s the weird mentality of a Christian school. Now don’t get me wrong– I had friends– friends I loved and who loved me– but none of us were cool and all of us were the target of some pretty unkind stuff. And even though my senior year was better and I made friends with a wider group of kids and I felt less like a pariah, I still remember the hurts and the feelings that I just would never fit in. And when I think about going back– to people who only remember High School Erin– well, I’m afraid that’s how they still think of me. Pimply, fat, unlovable, loud. Unable to fit in, no matter how hard I try.

Isn’t it interesting how we let other people define us?

And isn’t it interesting how those relationships affect our view of ourselves after so many years?

I’m afraid of not fitting in with my former high school peers– what if I’m still the awkward fat kid? What if my awkward homeschooled children don’t fit in? I drive an old minivan and my clothes are all from the thrift store. My husband is a pastor of a tiny church in a town no one has heard of. I have never once taken a fancy vacation to a big city or the Caribbean. What if I don’t measure up?

And it’s not just the friends from high school who bring out the insecurity– it’s the other pastors’ wives, whose churches are bigger and whose ministries seem to be so much more effective. It’s the other homeschooling moms whose 10 kids are all geniuses and perfectly well-behaved. It’s the women in my church who have all lived in Tiny Town for their whole lives and know everyone and everything.

Do you see what happens here? I love my life. I am right where God wants me. I have good friends, a wonderful husband, and children that delight me at least as often as they infuriate me. My pantry is full and so is my closet. My days are filled with so many blessings. And my identity is in a Savior who accepts me, loves me, and gives grace for every single challenge.

But instead of focusing on these realities, I so often focus on the opinions of others– real or imagined. I worry– am I dressed okay? Do I sound like an idiot? Do any of these people even like me? What if I am hurting my husband’s ministry? Did I overshare? I’ll never fit in with the other homeschooling moms; I don’t have enough kids. I’ll never fit in with the public school moms either. Do I even have a place? Why did I wear my hair like this? What if everyone is just being nice to me because they pity me?

I know it’s not just me. In fact, I expect that the majority of the other people from the class of ’97 saw that little Facebook post about getting together and started making plans for getting their hair done or crash dieting to get a few pounds off. All of us have insecurities. The good thing about my Savior is that He meets us right here where we are– and He says to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, and my power is made perfect in your weaknesses.” In other words, all that stuff I’m freaking out about, all the weaknesses and insecurities– that is exactly where God’s power is. So if people see my weakness– if they see that I’m afraid of their opinion or that some part of me is still a pimply seventeen-year-old girl who will literally do anything for acceptance– well, that’s right where they’ll see God’s power. His glory. Because He is transforming all of that into something beautiful.

I know who I am. I know who my Savior is. My arms are full, my belly is full, my heart is full. In Him I am exactly who I am created to be, and so I can go with confidence to wherever He takes me– whether it’s the grocery store, Sunday morning church, a homeschool convention, or a high school reunion.

He is everything about me that matters. And that truth frees me from my insecurities.

“In all these things, we are more than conquerors through Him who loves us.”


**********Edited to Add**********

I am afraid that this post comes across as unjust to the people I know from high school, many of whom I am Facebook friends with. I want to clarify that so many of my issues during that time of my life (and during all the OTHER times of my life) were coming from me– the way I perceived what people said and did, my defensiveness, my choices that alienated me from others. I expect that many of the people who hurt me in high school had no idea how their words affected me, and that a lot of them would be appalled to learn it now. And this is the truth– I have forgiven all of it, forgotten most of it, and made peace with my past. My insecurities that spring from those experiences have proven to be opportunities to grow, to minister, to reach out, to bless others, to pray harder.

High school is part of my story. I would not be who I am today without those pieces to the puzzle. God is good and He can redeem EVERY part of every story. Look at the verse in my sidebar. That’s truth right there. All things. Together for good.

No regret. No condemnation. Only Grace.


On Saturday


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The birds don’t know
it’s the silent day
after Good Friday,
before Sunday comes.

It seems all earth should be waiting
in a slow, silent inhale
ready for dawn’s hallelujah.

But the birds don’t care.

Their song greets the morning with joy
and says to me–
You don’t have to wait till tomorrow
to celebrate.

He is risen indeed–
just as He said.

Thanks be to God who gives us the victory.


Currently– An Update on Me


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So yeah. I really want to be back to blogging more in the New Year. I know I say that at least twice a year, post four times, and am never heard from again. I guess we’ll see. Anyway, I’m here tonight, and I was going to post something deep, and then we watched The Great Muppet Caper and my husband and I tried to have a conversation while all three of my children took turns standing between us, so I just decided to do this kind of post instead. Because I cheat. And because it’s my blog, so I can.

Current Books:
Be Encouraged by Warren Wiersbe
Liberty of Conscience: Roger Williams in America by Edwin S. Gaustad
Glimpses of Grace: Daily Thoughts and Reflections by Madeleine L’Engle
Discipline That Connects with Your Child’s Heart by Jim and Lynne Jackson
Sweet Agony Two: A Writing Book of Sorts by Gene Olson

That’s a pretty long list, but it’s not as crazy as it seems. Be Encouraged is what I’m using, along with my Bible obviously, for my morning Bible study right now. Glimpses of Grace is just a daily reading that’s less than a page long each day. And Sweet Agony Two is my pre-bedtime read, because it’s lightweight and therefore easy to hold onto in bed, and it’s also amusing but not so engrossing I can’t put it down. So really I’m only reading two books, which I think we can all agree is almost shameful and I probably should add a few more to the pile. ;)

Current Playlist: My Laura Story Radio station on Pandora is my general favorite right now. Although I also do a lot of listening to Darth Piggy practicing guitar, and Pooka singing “Let It Go” at the top of her voice.

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Spending time in the bathroom reading because it’s the only place the kids will leave me alone. I know. That’s not a very juicy guilty pleasure. It’s January 9th. Give my resolutions a few more weeks and we’ll see how I’m doing then. ;)

Current Colors: I’m enjoying my white, silver, and blue snowy decorations I put up for January. I expect to enjoy them for a limited time before I’m ready for spring.

Current Food: I made these super good Southwest Turkey Burgers the other day. Everybody but Pooka liked them, but she doesn’t like anything unless it’s spaghetti.

Current Drink: Lots of water. And more water. So far today I’ve had 96 ounces!!! (So some of those bathroom trips aren’t just for reading . . .)

Current Favorite Favorite: Early mornings with my Bible and journal and a cup of coffee

Current Wishlist: About three more hours in my day

Current Needs: Lots and lots of wisdom and patience for homeschooling

Current Triumph: I’ve gotten up to exercise early six out of the nine days of this year.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Memorizing a verse a day, which I decided to do for the month of January. No big deal, I said to myself. Memorizing has always been easy, I said to myself. Now I say to myself, Self, you are getting older and your brain cells have been sucked away by your children.

Current Indulgence: Afternoon naps as often as I can get them.

Current Mood: Pretty chilled out. The kids are in bed; Art is playing Super Mario World; my blanket is cozy and my chair is comfortable; and I’m about to have some ice cream and read a book.

Current #1 Blessing: Friends and church people and family who pray for me!

Current Outfit: jeans with long johns under them (I had to go shopping today and it’s like Antarctica exploded on Iowa out there), my super awesome Mountain Meadow Resort t-shirt from our family vacation in September (It’s neon pink), wool-blend socks my mom gave me for Christmas, and a sweatshirt.

Current Quote: Psalm 145:1 “I will extol You, my God and King, and bless Your name forever and ever.” (This is the verse I am supposed to memorize today)

Current Photo: This isn’t really very current. It was taken in Mitchell, South Dakota, on our family vacation last September. It kind of goes with my random mood today. :) Rabbit has crazy eyes.
I don't even know


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