April 24, 2014

I'll tell you about my past

I open up the photo album and flip through the pages.There is a boy next to me and he smiles at the photos I place in his lap.
Memories come floating back, I can smell the coconut oil and pandanas leaves, feel the bright sunlight and scratchy nylon material.
I delight in the mini me in the images, who seems so remote but is a hidden part of me I'll never forget.
These photo albums I'm excited to share - I laugh at the girl I was and remember the culture I grew up in.

He insists on other albums too, the ones I don't want to show, the awkward teenage years with pimples and frizzy hair and hating myself. I'm surprised at how happy I look in the images. How normal I look. The girl there doesn't look like the person I remember. The person I felt everyone was telling me I was.
These were pictures I had carefully selected, photos full of people I barely remember, trying to paint a picture in scrapbooks of the life I wanted.

I wish I could go back in time and talk with the girl who made these scrapbooks. I want to tell her about me now, who is happy, really. Tell her she'll make it through the next 10 years and get out the other side. That things aren't as horrible as her mind tells her they are. I want her to see me now, and I hope she's not disappointed.

These photos, are more than just images to you. By showing them I'm letting down my guard. I'm exposing myself and letting you in. This is my past and I need to accept it before a future can begin.

April 21, 2014

He is risen indeed

"The Lord is Risen."
"He is risen indeed!"

We say these words to each other as we walk into church, a habit, repeating liturgy on Easter day.

I remember the first time I realised that Jesus' resurrection was as important as his death. It was during a uni age Bible study and the leader asked if it mattered if Jesus had risen, or just that he died. I repeated something I had been told many times 'When Jesus died he took the punishment for my sin', and then added so technically it didn't matter that he rose again except to prove that Jesus was God? We debated it back and forth until the leader read out the verse  

And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.  More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. 1 Corinthians 15:14-17

I then understood that it was important that Jesus rose again, but I was still a bit unsure as to why. I mean, I believe everything the Bible says, and it says it's important so it must be important. I kind of got that if Jesus didn't rise from he dead then where is the certainty that we will be alive again after death? But I still felt like I wasn't quite understanding something.

At church yesterday, Easter Sunday, our minister preached from this passage and it all clicked. I love when that happens, when God puts all the pieces together in your mind to help you understand.

When you wrong a friend of yours you need to go and say sorry. And your friend can then choose to say 'I forgive you, things are ok with us now' or they can say 'what you did was too big, our friendship is broken beyond repair'. You hope they will forgive you, but the act of saying sorry is not enough, they have to actually forgive you (and follow it up with actions) for the relationship to be restored.
When Jesus died, he was taking our sins on himself and saying 'sorry' for all the things we had done to hurt God. But the relationship wasn't fixed yet, it was only when God raised Jesus from the dead that God showed us he was saying 'You are forgiven, we are ok now.'

And so we can say with great delight 'The Lord is Risen!'; we are forgiven, we have a restored relationship with God now.

He is risen indeed!

April 6, 2014

Six Months

Six months ago found me walking down a street to a restaurant I had never been to, to meet a man I had never seen face to face before. A last tug at my clothes, a few deep breathes, convincing myself not to throw up or cry I kept going forward. Someone was sitting on the wall outside the restaurant and he stood up as I approached.
"Hi, Erin." He said
"Brett," I replied and we smiled nervously at each other.

A table was reserved for us, and we sat down. Made small talk until the waiter came with menus and drinks. At that point I knew the possibility, but I had no idea how much the next 3 hours would impact the rest of my life.

Let's go back further, a few months before that.

 .   .   .   .   .

I was getting on, you see; 27 and still single in Christian circles is a bit of a rarity. My real fear was not that I wasn't dating currently, but that I had never dated. Ever. There had never been any boy who had decided I was worth getting to know better. I wondered, if no one had thought I was worth getting to know up to this stage, what would change that? I was 27 and had never been on a date, never held hands, never been kissed. As most possibilities found their match, and my friends married I wondered if Gods plan was for me to remain single.

I hated that idea, but I also wanted to follow God's will for my life. I hated the idea of being single and without a family of my own for the rest of my life. But I hated the idea of being with someone who didn't love God and his people as much as I did even more. Better to be lonely in this life, than live in disobedience to God I believed.

I prayed desperately for God to answer my prayers. To grant me my hearts desires. Or if not, then I asked that He take away this longing. Stop my heart from breaking every time I hung out with friends and being the only single there. Stop my arms from longing for a child of my own every time I held my friends babies. Stop this utter desire for love and companionship that I didn't know what to do with.

Yet God did not take away that desire. I still ached most days, wishing I could say that God was enough. Knowing He was enough and would always be enough, yet not able to quench this longing.

For about a year, or possibly longer I had had a few people suggest that I might like to try internet dating. I had dismissed it, thinking it was a selfish step, going behind God's back. But more and more people would mention it to me, some in passing, some in genuine conversations. Then the leader at a course I was doing at church told me that she had started dating someone recently that she had met online, and gave me suggestions on how to do it safely and within God's will. That God can use all situations when we surrender them to him. That something may come of it, or maybe nothing will, but at least I had tried.

I prayed. And thought. Decided to do it and then backed down. Talked about it with close friends. Finally I decided to go ahead and do it. Found a Christian online site, filled out the form and payed the money.

For about two months nothing happened. Then a few emails from guys. One I was not interested in. One I corresponded with for a while before deciding our beliefs were very different. One I agreed to meet up with, but he pulled out at the last minute.

Then I got a message from someone. His name was Brett, I checked out his profile and was impressed by his love of Christ, his genuine commitment to God and God's people, his humility and friendliness. I sent a message back, and we began to email.

I was in Kiama with my parents during the school holidays when we started emailing. At first I was hesitant, but soon I was waiting impatiently for the next email. We had very similar beliefs, enjoyed similar interests and wrote long emails back and forth about everything under the sun.
2 weeks after emailing he suggested meeting up and I was ready. I wanted to see if this connection was real, better to find out sooner rather than later. A phone call that went longer than I thought with giggles and easy conversations and working out connections (Sydney Christian circles!). I did a bit of goggling that night, to make sure he was who he said he was (what I found on line backed up what he said).

Which brings us back to lunch at the restaurant. We ended up chatting for 3 hours - which if you know me is a miracle in itself. I don't normally talk easily with guys, especially ones I only just met. As my friend said when I phoned her that evening all confused "Hun, if you can talk to a guy you just met for 3 hours without running out of things to say, there's something there."

We agreed to meet up 2 days later. A week after our first meeting we had another date and ended up spending 7 hours doing the Bondi to Coogee walk and then sitting on the beach talking. I closed my online dating account that night. We made it official the week after.

And six months after that first face to face meeting we are still going strong.

I'm in love. And Brett loves me back. And I am so full of thankfulness and joy. We look back and say God was our matchmaker. We live on opposite sides of the city, and both so involved in our local churches and in different professions there is not much chance we would have met any other way. But God stepped in and used online dating to bring us together. All in his perfect timing He brought the man who was most perfect for me into my life.

Happy dance :)

This is the LORD’s doing; it is marvelous in our eyes. Psalm 118:23

March 16, 2014

Two things

This was a thought I wrote down from a sermon a few weeks ago, that I just reread and was reminded of how true it is.

There are 2 documents that say in black and white what you value and what you invest in. Those two things are your bank statement and your calendar. You can say you value a certain thing, but these two documents will show if you actually do. You can think you don't really care about certain things but these documents will show if you actually do or not. because these two documents will show how you spend two of your most valuable resources; your money and your time. And that shows what you actually value.