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As I sit here writing this it sounds like the building is about to blow down from all the strong Oklahoma wind. I was lucky to get indoors without losing the scarf around my neck! Despite the annoying whistling noise and the bad hairdo it gives me, I really enjoy days like this. I really enjoy the outdoors and the sunshine and the wind (sometimes!)

It's days like that that seem to give me courage to make changes and improvements in my life. The wind sometimes seems as restless as my own soul.

As of late I have been learning a lot of lessons about contentment (as I have often bored you with writing about!) I really felt like I was beginning to get a handle on that...well ok barely but I was getting there! I was beginning to settle and start doing the little things I love again. Then...this thing hits last week. This uncomfortablness, this unsettled feeling. The feeling I felt like I was overcoming. It was back.

The feeling reminded me of the gusts of Oklahoma wind that too often blow dust into my eyes on my way into work. It was a pushing and pulling feeling. Pushing where and pulling where I don't know. I seriously began to pray about this. At first they were angry, anxious, desperate prayers of, "Lord, we just did this." After a couple nights of fitful sleep and anxious dreams I woke up one day to some answers. I was praying on my morning commute and it was then that God gave me some ideas and some peace.

I realized I must do more. God has shown me about myself that I don't do well in a stagnant state. I had trapped myself in this waiting game because I had sworn God had called me to simply wait. That this surely was God's will for my life even if it seemed to shrink my world by one hundred times. Even if it made me feel stifled and suffocated that surely this was God's I would wait until he made me feel better. Wrong thinking, my friends.

Yes, God has called me to the job that I am at and so very thankful for. Yes, the state of life that he has called me to has been a huge transition for me. But he has also stirred this restlessness in me to be used for his glory. To make me do more for his glory at work and in my personal life. He has gifted me to be a learner and a doer and those are the opposite of simply waiting and being stagnant. I am not to live my life waiting for the next step or the next foot to drop but rather in constant pursuit of God and how I can use the gifts that he has given me to give glory to him. That is not a waiting game, my friends, it is allowing God to work through every situation that you are presented with. I am not claiming to have this all figured out but I am claiming the peace that Christ has given me in every emotion and situation that I feel. My feelings are not reality, God's grace and peace are.

"What does this practically mean?" you ask. Well, for me it means that I am looking at going back to school and continuing my education because I know that is a passion that God has given me. This means that I learn how to better use my skills at work. This means that when I feel like running I stay and when I feel too comfortable to be interrupted that I accept divine interventions with a willing spirit and heart. This means holding plans loosely because they could always change but God's desire for me to be in intimate relationship with him never does. His plans are not against me but for me. I must stop thinking that God is not for me but against me. This gives me peace to think that in all things the God of the universe has my back.
OK so January is coming to a close and I am just now getting around to my New Year's blog post! What a horrible blogger am I?! Let's just say the last few weeks have been as busy in my world as they have been in my head. Coming back from a couple weeks off work at my parents' house I had decided that this coming semester (yes, I still go by semesters..even though I am no longer in school) would be different then the last. I would be more involved, I would make more friends, and I would be more organized. These were my New Year's resolutions...even if I just called them "New Year's Guidelines." At the heart of things I really just wanted to be more passionate and make more time for the things that matter. Doing this takes a few more steps then I expected. It took a lot more "come to Jesus meetin's" than I expected too.

I had to dig through my heart and my life and figure out what mattered to me...what really mattered to me and I had to prioritize these things.

I also had to decide how I was going to make more time for these things that were important to me. More time doesn't just appear at midnight on New Year's when I've decided to come up with these "guidelines." We make time for what matters to us.

I also had to realize that there is overflow in my life. That all aspects of my life can change the others. This is a very elementary concept, I know, but it took my life getting out of whack for me to really take this to heart. That when I am not looking to God or focusing on Him and His Word that I tend to get CRAZY! Like overthink everything, put too much identity in everything, just all around crazy! This then affects my relationship with Trent (my too wonderful boyfriend), my friendships, my health, etc...

The realization that my life was a little (and by that I mean A LOT) out of balance made me prioritize the things that needed to be back in balance. These are the things that I needed to make time for. For me this meant less TV time, going to a small group, more real life conversations with my friends and family (and me being the one to start these), prioritizing my Bible reading, etc.

As I look at this list I think, "Wow! That looks like a lot!" But in reality I did not make a list of these things and then start marking them off. I started to do things that made me feel better and more balanced and continued to do these things because I didn't like my life without them.

God has shown me so much beauty in the small things in my life that I want to seek Him more and I want more of these things. I want more walks in the sunshine, more deep conversations, more quality time, more love, more laughter, more peace in the presence of God and less pity parties.

A couple times this Christmas season I went driving around looking at Christmas lights. This is one of my favorite Christmas "traditions." Load everyone up in the car and grab some hot chocolate and just drive around essentially creeping on other people's houses. But isn't it so fun?! 
Both times I went this Christmas season I found myself acting like a little kid again. I got overly excited about all of it and then I'm pretty sure I clapped my hands at the sight of the first overly-decorated house! However, each new sight brought it's own sense of wonder as the lights glittered off every surrounding. I remember thinking that I loved the feeling I had right then. My family and loved ones near, Christmas around the corner, and simply just relaxing and enjoying life. I wanted this feeling to last all the time and the realist in me shot that dream down. However, I then realized that with Christ in my life I have the option to have joy every moment of every day. No I will not always be happy but I will always have the option to claim my right in Christ to peace and joy and love. Christ has transformed my sin-filled self into a new creation with a special relationship to himself. I often forget this and try and do life on my own and to be honest I'm tired of it. I'm tired of the fear and anxiety and worry. This holiday season and every day in the future I have the option to trade in these things for the joy, peace, and love of Jesus Christ in my life. It will be hard at times and not the most fun but it will be worth it because in place of my own failings God has given me a renewed sense of childish awe at life. He has given me this life to follow his Spirit and to love with my whole heart. In 2014 I choose awe, joy, love, peace, patience, grace, forgiveness, and Jesus. Will you choose this with me?


One Good Question


In the last few days and weeks I have been posed with the question "is it worth it?" Now, this simple question applies to multiple scenarios and circumstances. It can apply to every decision, interaction and relationship because we as humans place value and worth on everything. We desire to get the most reward for the least amount of, money, sacrifice. It's cold to say but it's true at the core of our nature. But in our hearts we desire to be invested, committed, and engaged. We desire that no matter what our nature says about it not being worth the work...that we still are a part of something bigger then ourselves, something we have invested in. This can be seen in a lot of areas of human life: marriage, work, raising children, relationships, religion, etc. The question that seems to echo through my mind every morning when my feet hit the ground is "where do I invest? Will today be only about me..again?" There are only so many days you can be happy while only thinking about yourself. Have you noticed that? I am the happiest when I forget my problems because I'm too focused on someone else. Let me just be honest for a second....I have not had many days recently where I feel like I have been so focused on someone else that I have forgotten my problems. My problems have been all-consuming as of late. But thanks to listening to my own father's sermon a little while back I started to think about a few things differently.  I started to ask myself if what I was doing was worth it and if Jesus was worth it. My first instinct was "Well, duh, it's Jesus!!" But then the logical part of my brain began to work through the syntax of that question. The "it" there begs the grammatical question of "what." What is "it" referring to? So I began to fill it in with various aspects of my life. They were hard questions to ask and they are hard things to give up when you really begin to ask yourself if He is worth it. My heart is still reeling from those questions and every morning I wake up only to process that more. I began to think (well aren't you just glad that I am making you go through every train of thought I have ever had! I'm sure you're just loving it!) about the calling that God has on my life right now and where he has placed me to fulfill that calling for this stage. It's in Oklahoma youth ministry. There are some long, heavy, brain-numbing days in this work. There are some days I wonder if I heard Him right because I seem to have no clue what I am doing! But then I think about all the students I have seen and have heard about from their youth ministers. Youth ministers, volunteers, mentors, pastors, etc whose hearts break for these students and who love them sacrificially. I then asked myself if the students of Oklahoma were worth it and the only answer my heart could resound with was YES and YES!! Students everywhere are worth it. Sometimes it is a daily reminder that they are worth it and that Jesus is worth it. If we are being honest...and shoot you know my whole crazmaniac (yes I made that up...but I kind of like it so it stayed!) brain by's not always a "duh moment" that Jesus is worth it. The life he has called me to is crazy paradoxical because for once I do not ask "what can I do for the least amount of work or investment." Instead, because of what he has done for me while asking for nothing worth anything in return (talk about not being worth it!) I want to invest and love others when some days I will get nothing back. We must get comfortable in this quadrant of life where we can love and love and love and know that God will fill us up at the end of each day with more then we gave out. So my one great question for you is "is He worth it? Are they worth it?" The "it" and "they" are for you to decide. 

My life has felt very chaotic lately. I know it's because I just graduated from college and I am trying to adjust to life outside of the 16 years I have spent in a school of some sort, but I just can't seem to get a hang of it yet. Truth be told I miss class. I miss learning...learning about concepts and about myself and how they collide. Knowledge should never be knowledge for the sake of knowing but for the sake of changing myself and changing my world. I remember in college walking back to my room and always pausing to look at the stars. It was in those moments I learned to breathe and remember that God holds them in the same hand that he holds my heart and my future. I realized on my way home from work today that I don't look at the stars any more. So I stepped out of my car and looked up at the stars for the first time in awhile. One in particular stood out to me and made me think of the North Star. Polaris. The key to directions....which I am horrible at. Directions always seem to get jumbled up in my head no matter how hard I try. This is what my head and my heart feels like often these days, a little turned upside down. However, lest you think I am unhappy, let me tell you it is being lost that I have found out so much. So much about God and so much about who He says I am. I have learned that He doesn't love me because I do for Him but because I am for Him. This is hard for me because I am a doer and often worry that I do not do enough or am not prepared for every unforeseen possibility. I used to think I had a good grasp on the unforeseen and was ALWAYS prepared. Let me take a moment to laugh at the naive, immature version of myself that was...yesterday. I don't think I will ever learn how to let go. There have been some moments where I think God has confronted me with my own need for control by showing me the physical effects of this stronghold. I often feel like He says, "Let go or die!" But that's just my flare for the dramatic coming out. But really. I have been more sick now then I may have ever been in college or most other times of my life. I am too busy controlling every aspect of my life and thinking up every possible outcome of things to relax or to let God give me rest for my soul. Rest for my soul. That is what I need: a place of shelter and protection. 
What does this have to do with stars you say? Well, today when I looked up at the stars above my apartment I remembered all the times God has provided for me. All the times I foresaw coming and all the ones that I didn't. He does not discriminate and he blesses me no more or no less for my ability to plan. He takes care of his children, for which I am one. He will always take care of me. The stars will always remind me of his love, his majesty, and his direction. It will never be easy for me to let go but I will do so everyday because I know I leave my life in the capable hands of the one who hung the stars. It is in these hands that I may find rest for my soul, there and nowhere else. 



    My name is Erin Black and I am a recent college graduate with a degree in Religion. I work for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma in Student Ministry. I have a wonderful family, a loving boyfriend and a wonderful Savior in Jesus Christ. 


    November 2013