Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Share Your Story : Erin

It's Share Your Story day! Our next story comes from a beautiful and strong young woman who has been my friend for many years.  Erin is full of love - for God and for others, is a strong woman of faith and someone that I truly look up to.  She is never to busy too sit and listen and is patient with every word.  We have laughed and laughed together, cried together and have had so many funny and memorable moments together.  I can't wait for you guys to meet her!

Tell us a little about yourself!   My name is Erin, I am 23 years old and If I could choose one word to describe my life right now it would be simple. God has blessed me with a season in my life of learning and growing in Him. I am the third of four children to my wonderfully amazing parents, Nick & Sue. I have one beautiful older sister, two amazing brothers (one older, Mark & one younger, Noah) and a great brother-in-law (Mike). In addition to that I have a beautiful, smart 3 ½ year old niece and a handsome, charming nephew who is 1 ½. I am blessed beyond measure. Some of my favorite things to do include studying God’s word, spending time with my family and friends, traveling, restoring furniture and general craftiness. My ideal vacation would be to travel to Alaska and spend a week in constant sunshine! I graduated in 2010 from the College at Southeastern in Wake Forest, NC and currently work at a small boutique back home. I have no idea what God has in-store for my future but I do know that every day I learn to trust Him more and more and whatever it may be my most important job in life is bringing glory to His name.

When was your first encounter with God and how did you become a Christian? -  I was 4 years old when I accepted Christ. It was a young age but I remember it like it was yesterday, sitting at the kitchen table. I am so blessed to have grown up in a home where Christ was the center of all we did and in that moment sitting there I knew, it just made sense to me. I am so glad that God has continued to be so real in my life. The most influential people in my salvation was my family. I was raised in a home where Christ comes first and all else comes second. It is amazing the influence of just watching someone live a genuine life and practicing what they preach- in my case this was my parents. To this day they will continue to play the biggest role in my Christian life of mentoring and encouraging me.

Have you experienced a time of confusion or uncertainty in regards to your life or even faith? -
In my short 23 years on earth I have been blessed beyond
measure. The Lord has provided in ways I never dreamed possible- and for that I am eternally grateful. But that does not mean that it has been a life empty of struggle. In the midst of all of these lavish blessings the Lord has given me I have allowed anxiety and fear to creep in. From a very young age I can recall struggling with anxiety and as much as I would like to tell you it is something I grew out of as I got older- it is not. Throughout the years I have found that change is not something I adjust to well. One of the most difficult changes in my life has been the transition from college to adulthood. I struggled with finding my purpose in life and little by little the anxiety crept in until before I knew it I had allowed it to cripple me. I spent countless nights crying and thinking what now God? I watched as so many of my friends moved away to start new adventures - others were engaged and getting married and some starting new exciting careers. As excited as I was for them I felt as though the Lord had forgotten me- I prayed over and over again “Lord, here I am send me!”. But no matter how hard, long, fast or loud I prayed it felt as though the Lord was telling me that I was where he wanted me and that he wanted to use me- where I was. I begin to seek Him more diligently than ever before in my life and to my surprise- He began opening doors for me where I never thought possible. Even as I sit here and type this it brings a tear to my eye just to think how hard it must have been for a Father watch His child wander aimlessly as he patiently called out to me over and over again. As I began to study more and more of His word and His promises to His children I learned to trust Him more and more and I realized the more I trusted Him, the less I worried.

What did God teach you through this time of struggle? - How amazing is our God that even in the midst of tragedy and chaos He is still constant. One of my favorite things about the Lord is how He is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow.  Looking back now I can see how He was with me through all of my struggles- guiding me even when I felt as though I was wondering in the darkness and I am so thankful. He taught me so much about myself during this opportunity; one of the biggest things I have learned is that I am created in the image of God. He made me with a purpose and He can use me just as I am. My relationship with Him has grown so much- I am humbled more and more each day as I learn more about Him and who He has created me to be.  

Do you have any advice for someone going through a similar situation/circumstance? - As cliché as it sounds remember, “ if He brings you to it He will bring you through it”. You are created in the image and deeply loved by the King, the creator of the heavens and the earth. I so often have to remind myself that His love for His children is so deep that He sent His one and only son to live a perfect life, die on the cross and rise again after three days to pay for our sin so His children could spend eternity with Him- no greater love is there than this so why would I think he would bring me to these struggles in my life and abandon me? My biggest piece of advice would be to pray without ceasing- He hears your prayers.

Tell us about one of your most favorite memories or events in your life! - I would have to say that one of the most memorable events in my life would be my first international mission trip. I was a senior in high school and the Lord made a way for me to travel to Nairobi, Kenya with my church. To this day I still remember it all- the people, the sounds, the smells and everything else. As we drove from the airport to conference center I watched as we drove through little towns that had poverty and sickness like nothing I had ever seen before.  Throughout that week we met people from all different walks of life and we experienced things that were new and different. God taught me so much on this trip and opened my eyes to this great world He has created.

What did God teach you through this awesome experience? God taught me so much on my trip to Kenya. I will never forget the sound as hundreds of missionaries from all over sang Blessed Be the Name of the Lord. People just like you, just like me who had given everything to take up their crosses and follow Him. They had uprooted their children, left behind parents, Grandparents, Aunts and Uncles to follow Him wherever he may lead. God did not wait for me to arrive in Kenya- He started preparing my heart weeks and months before. We spent many hours reading, studying and preparing to go and in doing so I know that made the being there that much better. After returning from Kenya God continued to use that trip to work in my life. I had seen things that were foreign from anything I had ever experienced here at home and my heart would be forever changed from that point forward.

Do you have any spiritual role models in your life?- Every day we are influenced by the world. Some for the better, some for the worse. The people that you surround yourself with play such an important role in who you are. God has created us all different, we have all journeyed down different paths to get us to where we are and I count myself so blessed to have been influenced by so many great women in my lifetime. It is such an important thing to have mentors and role models that will encourage you and teach you along the way.  It is hard to pick just a few- My sweet mother (Sue) and sister (Sarah) have played such a huge role in my life of showing me what a Godly wife and mother looks like. These are two of the most sincere and God fearing women I have ever met in my lifetime. They have shown me what it means to put self last and others first and to daily seek Christ, Living a life that is pure and genuine. Over the 23 years of my life they have cried with me, laughed with me, prayed for me and encouraged me to seek Christ first in everything. They have truly shown me unconditional love that no amount of words on a page could ever fully describe.  There are two other very special women that come to mind when I think about who I am today. Both Megan and Lauren have taught me so much about what it means to seek, follow and serve the Lord. I was in 9th Grade when I met Megan and immediately we bonded. Her genuine care for people and love for the Lord encouraged me to continue serving the Lord and be obedient to His calling. When I went away to college I was so blessed to meet sweet Lauren, I remember walking into that D-group classroom panicking that I would not know anyone- little did I know that Lauren would become such a big part of my life from that day on. Encouraging me as I adjusted to life outside of high school and helping me to deepen my faith daily and continue to build my faith on a firm foundation. Such strong women devoted to studying and learning God and His doctrine. I am so thankful that He has blessed me with these great spiritual mentors who have become more than just that, they have become family to me.

What would be the one piece of advice you would give other young women? -If I could leave you with one piece of advice it would be this: The world will try so hard to tell you who you are or who you need to be. They will tell you what you need to have, the clothes you need to wear, the music you need to listen to and everything in-between. But know this: your true identity is hidden in Christ. Seek the Lord and who He has created you to be- rather than allowing the world to tell you who you are show the world who Christ has created you to be and in doing so you will show the lost and dying world the love of Christ. 

What is your favorite verse/verses? - They are all so good! It is hard to pick just a few. Some of my most favorite verses of scripture include: Psalms 37:4 “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.” I particularly like this one for what God has used it to teach me over the past 2 years. It is funny how one word can change your whole perspective. I feel like I was able to find the true meaning of Delight when I fully understood that this verse says “and he will give you the desires of your heart” as opposed to “so he will give you the desires of your heart.” In understanding this it is funny to see how quickly the desires of your heart change when you are truly delighting yourself in the Lord, such a powerful word….delight.  Another one of my favorite verses is Joshua 1:9 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Being someone who has struggled with anxiety for so long I love this verse for how it empowers me to find my strength and courage in the Lord and not me. Such an encouraging verse.  James 1:6 “but let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind.” Hmm.. this convicts me to the core! So true!< Isaiah 26:4 “Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.” He is everlasting- the same yesterday, today and tomorrow. I am so thankful and humbled by His greatness. I am so in awe.  Micah 7:7 “But as for me, I will look to the Lord; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the Lord will be light to me.”  These are just a few of my most favorite verses. Verses that have comforted me many a times. There is such power in the word of the Lord. 

Wow, Erin is such a blessing and I'm so thankful for her sharing with us today.  I know that God has so many wonderful things in store for her.  Thanks so much Erin for sharing your story!!

Tune in every Wednesday for a new story!  If you would like to participate and Share Your Story, send me an email, I'd love to chat with you.

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