A little break.

   

Here is a photo of some maps, atlas, travel book and notes- all things that exude thoughts of wanderlust and adventure. Over the past few weeks especially, I have poured some of my time into researching and asking lots of questions from friends and from the i-site, in order to come up with a schedule for when my friend Aoife comes. I cannot even believe that that time is so near, this very week! You know those moments when you anticipate something happening and think of it often, however it is hard to really formulate in your mind that it will actually happen. That’s how I feel. I can’t imagine  someone from my part of the world walking down the same streets that I share and being able to witness some of the beauties that this country has to offer alongside of me!
For over two weeks, we will be exploring the south island -from glow worm cave to glaciers, from natural hot springs to whale watching, mountains and turqouise coloured water, waterfalls and snow, New Zealand wine and lots of coffee. I will definately be posting about the trip afterwards with photos and insights but for now I simply wanted to say that I probably won’t be posting anything over the next few weeks. I hope that until then, you are well and continue to indulge in the happy world of reading! 

See you soon, 

Erin

Seated.

  
This is my current bed side table with a few things that I love resting on top of it -flowers, coffee, candles and of course books. I thought to myself the other day that it would be an idea to incorporate some of the books that I am reading into my blog posts. Usually, I am reading at least two books at one time. It’s always interesting to have a fiction close to hand, as well as a life application type book. The book that I will be sharing a bit about today is of the latter category. It is called Seated With Christ by a lady called Heather Holleman.

I chose this book several months ago as the sentence ‘Living freely in a culture of comparison’ stuck out to me. I want to live freely and I certainly don’t want to be caught up in the race of ‘keeping up with the Jones’, whoever the heck they are! I know that this can come out in different ways for many people. I’m not as pretty or thin as she is. I’m not as smart or intellectual as he is. They have more money and influence than I do. Why do they get more recognistion for their work than I do? It’s not fair, they have a marriage, children and a home to build a life in. It’s not fair, they are single and have the freedom to do all the things they want to do for themselves and when they want to. They get to go on vacations every year. How come I don’t have that? I want to be like so and so. I want what they have. And so the list can go on. I feel an anxiety rise within me just typing this out because it’s tiresome. It’s a waste of time and energy because we will never be content looking horizontally around us and comparing our lives to others. I have to remind myself of this every single day. God is always calling us to look to Him alone and He has already positioned us in a seat that we need not race for. This is the point that Heather Holleman is constantly driving in her book, Seated with Christ.

But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved. And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus,  in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.

This is a passage from Ephesians 2.4-7 and it is in verse 6 that we read the words that He has seated us with Him. This is our new position that we have when we trust God with our whole lives and recognise the cost that was sent for us to be in that position. That His only Son, both God and Man, -perfect- had to die for our sins so that we can be seated with Him. I’m so ashamed that I grumble and complain about what I don’t have on a regular basis. I can be so guilty of looking around and seeing what others may have that I do not and either rebelling against those things in my heart or fighting off the tendency to become bitter about it. When I think about God being my Creator and a creator knowing what is best for it’s creation, I am comforted. I am designed and created with a particular purpose- that is to glorify God and worship Him, but He has also created every single person out there uniquely and to fulfill that purpose through different ways. Therefore, He will not give everyone the same guide or formula to live by. Some will get married and some won’t. Some will have children and some may not. Some may climb quite the successful social or career ladder and others will not. Some may acquire much wealth while others do not.Some may travel the world and others will stay at home. And all of the above are ok. They are good in fact and none is better than the other. We must cling onto the truth that we are all seated equally as sons and daughters of the King. Here is a picture from the book that really helped me to put this into perspective.

Heather begins to explain this idea of being equally seated by writing about how she found this quote in the museum guide of Hayden Platerium.

All seats provide equal viewing of the universe.

When she enquired about this, she received the answer that ‘the planetarium is designed so that no matter where you sit, you see the exact same images. No matter where you sit, you won’t miss any part of the show.’ I imagine us all going out our front door on a clear night and looking up at the stars. They are accessible for anyone to view no matter the status, no matter what you have and no matter where you are (except for places like Ireland who need to pray for more clear nights, but you get the idea!). God asks us to come as we are, so neither should we be living by who He has not created us to be. He has that other person to fit that particular purpose and yours is something else, neither being of more importance than the other because it’s actually not about us-it’s about who we worhsip. Neither should we be exalting our roles or positions over others either. The person who serves in front of the church is not in a special seat in comparison to the person who cleans the toilets every week. Sometimes we can see an exaltation of the position of marriage and families over those who are single, while God speaks about both as gifts and special. It is also a reminder that we cannot earn our seats with those positions or roles, with what we have required in our homes or bank accounts, with our influence or popularity. We are already seated with that same view of the universe, with the same access to the Creator of that universe.

And finally here are a few things I jotted down in my journal from this book.

Knowing Jesus and being with Him is better than any life I could design or imagine for myself. (Please read my post ‘When we limit our imagination’ for more thoughts on this subject)

And some questions to ask ourselves:

  • Is knowing Jesus better than anything?
  • Will I live the life God asks me to?
  • Is there anything in my life that doesn’t please God?
  • Am I available to be God’s spokesperson.

Thanks, Heather Holleman for explaining it beautifully. If you are keen to read it ( and the study at the back), I hope you find it eye-opening and mind transforming. I still struggle with this pointless race of comparison but will try to keep my eyes focused on the race that God calls me to.

Happy reading!

Well done.

                              
Do you ever have those moments when you needed to hear  or be reminded of something and it brings things back into focus? I had some of that today. Not only was it putting things back into perspective, it was also an encouraging kick up the backside. So let me explain.

This morning we were looking at the Parable of the Talents in Matthew 25.14-30, where a king gives three servants various amounts of money to look after. Here, we see the unfolding of how the three spent their money and how their actions reflected their trust and belief in their King to be faithful. We see the first two go off and ‘put their money to work’ and gain more from that, while the third was ‘afraid and dug his in the ground’, gaining no more than what he hid. This King entrusted them with his wealth and we begin to understand the responsilibity that was laid in their hands. We also see demonstrated two responses in the text and two displayed a trust in the faithfulness of their King to return while the other exclaims that he was afraid and was inactive in what he had been entrusted with. 

This really hit home with me and it refocused the trains of thoughts that I’ve had over the week. WOW. God has entrusted me while on this earth and how am I using what He has given me? His wealth of time and resources? The personality and individual make-up that He has designed me with? The relationships around me and the money in my pocket? The lessons I’ve learned and the availability to continue to grow? Am I aware of what He has even entrusted me with? Do I even acknowledge the privelege and the responsibility to be a steward of all of the above? So that in the end He can say “Well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in your master’s happiness.” And if you are faithful in the small things that you have, then He says that He will put you in charge of much more!

Or will I hide all of these things away, afraid to use them for His purposes and instead use them for my own profit? Do I believe that God is faithful in all of His promises and will I cheerfully give back all of who I am and what I have for Him alone? Are we being faithful in what we have now and where we are? Is it possible for the person who posseses the gift of singleness to be intentional about not wasting precious time and availability that comes with that stage? Is it viable for those who posses the gift of marriage to not get wrapped up in selfish ambition but use their home to display the selfless love of Christ? Everything out there seems to be screaming do this or do that so you can feel or look good. Pursue what you want , no matter the cost. Gain as much as you can for your self. Pursue that relationship, own that house, have those children, climb that ladder in your job, seek those vacations, collect all those toys and objects of hobby and retire with all your stuff, so you can sit back and say “I have used all that I am and all of my resources to seek pleasure and happiness for myself.” But what is God going to say? Will He say “well done, good and faithful servant. Come and share in your master’s happiness?”. Or will He say “Well, you invested and spent all that you had for yourself and others, you wanted to look good and feel good but you were never concerned with me or all that I had entrusted you with. You won’t be sharing in my joy?”.

What a little wake up call this was for me. Where God has me. What He has me doing. With what He has provided me with. Am I faithful? Because He is faithful and He is worthy. Even when it feels minute. Be faithful. Even when it seems overwhelming. Be faithful. Even when it doesn’t make others envy me or when isn’t so desirable or pleasureable. Even when it is confusing. Be faithful. Trust in the King who is away working on the details and will return to say “enter into your master’s joy”. No one else’s opinion will matter as much and no selfish ambition will ever measure up. It will be worth the cost and you will have found the greatest treasure there is to gain- not the world, but the King.

Third Culture Kid

A few years ago someone labelled me, and I’m sure thousands of others, as what is known as ‘third culture kids’. It has stuck with me ever since. Third culture kid is basically a term used to refer to children who have been raised up in a culture outside of their parents. With my mother being American and my father Irish, and having lived in both countries, I guess I might fall into this category. 

This week America celebrated their 4th July. Family and friends came together for meals in the warm sunshine dressed in stars and stripes. Instagram is sure to be filled with the three colours of red, white and blue. And at the end of the day there will fireworks to brighten up a summer night’s sky. I don’t remember the last time I expereienced this in the United States, it has been quite some time. Over the years, I have taken part in some sort of celebration with other Americans. However with that it always brings a strange sense of unsettlement. Because at the end of the day, I don’t feel ‘fully’ American. As I have said in previous posts, having a place attached to every important document and yet having limited associations and experiences from that place can leave you wondering about your sense of belonging and even your identity.

Here are a few situations in which induces these feelings. When I am asked “Where are you from?”. I usually respond with a few seconds of silence because I know that my accent has already thrown them off and then I ponder about which country to mention first. The one I was born in and spent a decade or so in, or the most recent of the two that I have lived in? Does whichever one I mention first insinuate that that one is most prefereed or most home to me? Another unsettling situation that I often find myself in is being welcomed to Ireland on a regular basis and asked how long am I staying for? The evidence of the American twang in my accent leads my fellow Irishman to ponder where I have come from and for how long is my vacation? ( I mean of course, I use the accent to my advantage when asking for directions and have no problem pulling the foreign card when convenient!) But all said and done, I go away not quite knowing where exactly to fit in, in either of those places.

Being asked about where you are from is one of the first few things people ask each other. So it must be important… Is it another box that people place you in to better understand you? Does it play a determining factor in your identity? Because if so, I think I might leave others confused as to where to place me, as well as wondering who I am in light of these factors?

Because last week I looked like this…

  
And this week I look like this…

  
And you know what, the world is such a small place that this whole third culture label will soon become the norm!

I have understood what it was like to have family and friend across the ocean, and I am now understanding what it is like to have loved ones across the world! There can be so many challenges to this (as well as appreciating the access to Europe and the United States with more than one passport.) But is it so important for me to feel completely at ease in one particular culture? Is there such thing as ‘fluid nationality’? Because, if so, that is what I label myself as. Ultimately, I believe that my identity is in Christ and He can use all the things (and countries!) that make me ‘me’ for His glory. And it’s ok to feel estranged, I’m sure Jesus probably felt quite ‘alien’ at times, as He knew in what to call home and it probably wasn’t Bethlehem or Nazareth. He understood where His identity was placed and it ultimately wasn’t a Jew or in Israel. People were quick to make associations with his birth place too, questioning what comes from Nazareth? But in God’s perfect plan, He allowed the Son of the Living God to be born there. God uses every detail of our lives. Therefore, I don’t have to get perplexed when asked “which do you prefer”,  “which one is home” or “where will you settle down’? I don’t really have to have those answers because God has them and they are all connected with him. I can simply appreciate both cultures and learn from the experiences of each country. At the end of the day, who I am, a new creation (2 Cor 5.17) and in who my identity is placed in, will lead me to feeling right at home, completely at ease, wherever in the world that may be. 

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! If i take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. Psalm 139.7-10

Here are a few photos from throughout the years of celebrating the 4th July.

    
     
 

So all you third culture kids out there, embrace it! And by the way, I totally don’t mind being asked where I am from!