The Cost of Being Vulnerable

Halloween 7 years ago was the last time I abused drugs. It has been 7 years now that have chosen a different path for my life. I have grown so much since that day. I have become a person of love, a person of hope and a person of joy.

Several years ago, I was randomly asked to share my testimony to a group of church people whom I had never met and I was so scared, yet so honored. I was honored that God was able to use my story to speak life into people. I was honored to be able to share the transformation that was continuously taking place in my life. At that point in time, I had no care in the world as to what they would think of me because I was secure in the Lord, I knew He would protect me.

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
1 Corinthians 5:17

Last night, the Holy Spirit reminded me of this verse, a verse used so often yet so powerful. It reminds me that I am not longer the Erin that had to steal money to get drugs to sleep at night and get through each day. I am no longer the Erin that didn’t understand how to love or be loved. I am not that person. I am a new creation.

The same year I began sharing my testimony I took a mission trip to Haiti. Halfway through the trip, I was on a rooftop watching God paint another marvelous sunset, basking in the sweet presence of Christ when He spoke to me very soft and clearly. He told me that he wanted to use my past for His Glory. He told me to share the hope that lied within my story. Hope of redemption.

I did this for several years to come. Anytime I had the chance, I would share my story in hopes that it might touch the heart of someone who had been where I had. I witnessed lives change and hope restored.

Eventually, I took a path that led me out of full time ministry and into the corporate world. Into a world that doesn’t understand redemption, a world that doesn’t know what true hope is. Honestly, it was a slow change, I was still willing to tell my story but only when deemed appropriate. Then I only told it at church where people knew my heart and knew I was no longer that person. Then I pretty much stopped all together. I was listening to Satan without even realizing it.

I had people tell me how it could have awful repercussions on my life in the “secular” world. I had people tell me to keep it a secret, because I didn’t want people finding out who I used to be and using it against me. I had people tell me not to talk about it because some people wouldn’t believe that I had changed. They were right. Some may not believe me, it may harm my chances with some corporations and some people may always believe I am the same person I was when I was 16.

They were right, but I will choose not to live in fear, but in victory.

My God has his hand on my future and knows what will happen. He knows the intricate details of my soul. When I was 16, I promised God that I would use my voice and my story to bring light to the lost, to being hope to the hopeless and love the unloved. I will not let fear of rejection or disapproval of people determine my obedience to my Savior.

We all have a story. Maybe it’s not like mine. Maybe you were who I would’ve been had I not chosen to change my life. Maybe you grew up and never had any major issues and you’ve followed Jesus from the time you came out of the womb. It doesn’t matter what your story entails, it can be used for the Glory of God. It can bring hope to those around us. When you are prompted by the Holy Spirit to be vulnerable, do it. You may never know what God is using you for, but He has a pretty good idea of what He is doing. It may not look or sound pretty, but that’s the point. God takes our nastiness and turns it into something beautiful.

Don’t let your story, your own personal love story, go untold.

With Love,
Erin Rae Vandiver

Lesson #3 Living with a Boy is Gross

This one just makes me laugh. It is very gross, but not nearly as gross as I would’ve assumed.

I say living with a boy is gross, but Jacob is one of the cleanest men I have ever met. He is more worried about how the clothes are folded than I have EVER been and he always does the dishes and laundry. Well, I say he does the laundry… he puts it in the washer and dryer, but waits a week or so to fold it (but not before it goes back into the dryer 3 more times to get the wrinkles out.. Ha!) On the flip side, I am just as guilty as letting it sit there simply because I don’t want to do it. Haha!

I am very grateful that my husband does not mind helping keep a clean home, yet that does’t mean it’s always clean. He tends to trim his beard over the bathroom sink and not rinse it out and I tend to eat and not rinse my plate off – we do this often.

I didn’t realize the addition of messiness when adding just one person into a home.. I think it quadruples the dishes and laundry somehow, but I am not 100% positive. I am sure he feels the same way about me. I am not saying he doesn’t do his share – because he does and while he’s at it usually does my half of the share as well.

It’s just wild. Plus he is much more open about bodily functions than I was ever allowed to be. It’s a whole new world learning about them all and why you choose to ‘express’ yourself when are where you do!

But guess what? At the end of the day, none of it matters. Not the wrinkly clothes, not the dirty dishes or the hair in the sink. All that matters is that we love each other day in and day out and have fun while doing so!

All my love,

Erin

Lesson #2. What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine.

First off.. Can I just take a moment and tell you how great my husband is?

Today, I came home to all the laundry done and all the dishes finished. I am beyond grateful as we have both been stressed and overwhelmed by the clutter-y house. We work totally different hours and I recently went back to school. I work the normal 8-5 and spending most of my evenings studying and doing homework, and he works 1:30pm to 10pm, but rarely gets home before midnight so he spends a lot of the day sleeping. Therefor, it’s the small victories like getting the dishes done and the laundry OUT of the dryer before a week passes and have to wash the same clothes over again! HA!

Anyways..

Learning that the word “mine” is no longer a word we use in our daily lives other than our toothbrushes – of course – and such, has been a weird thing to learn. You would THINK it would be easy, but both of us came from a home with a sibling close in age. This meant t-shirt were not shared, we had our own rooms, certain foods we liked more than our sibling did so when it came time to share with our siblings, it was a war. At least in my house; my brother HATED it when I used to wear his T-shirts, but they were SO much better than my 50.

Brother

Though we fought over t-shirts,
Brother is still a pretty cool cat.

I don’t know how many times Jake has gotten something out of the refrigerator and I’ve said “hey that’s my…. insert yummy food here!” I usually catch myself, and tell him he is welcome to it. It’s too late at that point, he knows my heart’s intent was to definitely not share – no less, let him HAVE – my yummy food or drink.

I have come to a strange, yet wonderful realization. He has just as much ownership of my heart as I do.

When I said “I do” to Jacob, I really said “Here’s my heart, I trust you to take care of it, and me. Here’s my life, my dreams and my failures, they are just as much yours as they are mine.”

What that also means is that I vowed to share the last piece of blackberry cobbler I made for HIM, the yummy Starbucks coffee I bought for ME because I am in too big of a rush in the mornings to make my own, fresh coffee and to share the blankets even when my feet and fingers are freezing.

What’s his is mine and what’s mine is his. That’s all there is to it, in everything.

Also, please note, we do have things we do that are “our own.” He is not with me 24/7. I can treat myself to Starbucks without him and not feel bad (even though, sometimes I do feel bad for it, ha!), but I also remember to not be selfish when it comes to material things or my heart for that matter.

As always thanks for stopping by! I would love if you shared some of your biggest lessons in marriage so far!

With Love,
Erin Vandiver

Lesson #1: Having to love myself before my husband can

There is a reason this is number one. There is a reason this came to my mind before anything else when making my list. There is a reason it is so important to me.

It’s because it is the hardest lesson and the choice I need the most conscious effort for. It is also the latest lesson I have learned.

People always say that you have to love yourself before you can truly love anyone else. I believe that to a point, but not as much as I believe you have to love yourself before your spouse can. Let me explain. A few months after Jacob and I got married, I slipped in to a sort of depression. All I wanted to do was sleep, I wondered if I had married a man who didn’t love me. I love my husband more than I could ever explain, but I have had a hard time believing that he truly loved me. I began to really dissect why I didn’t always believe that the man I married and who would do anything to see my smile, didn’t love me. I had one conclusion. I didn’t love myself enough. I always felt like he didn’t truly forgive me when I wronged him and more importantly, I was not quick to forgive. I had a bad day and I would take it out on him, even when he did nothing wrong. I blamed him for me not waking up to my alarm, but how is that his  fault? Why did I do this?

The answer is simple:
sometimes, I forget that I have to love myself to truly love my husband and to truly allow him to love me. 

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Jake loves me fiercely, every single day. Not a day goes by without him showing me the love he has for me in some way or another – whether I choose to see it or not. 

I knew something, anything and everything had to change. I figured if I couldn’t change him, I would have to change myself. It’s funny how quickly I realized there was no need for him to change, so it was a good thing I had already decided to change myself.

Realizing I didn’t love myself enough, changed everything. I realized how badly I talked about myself, how upset I got when I burnt the chicken (seriously, crying hysterically) and how I hated looking at myself in the mirror.

I began trying to recall the moments when Jesus told me He loved me. When he showed me He loved me. This is when it all changed. I didn’t randomly lose 20 lbs, wake up prettier or learn to not burn the chicken… But, if the Creator of the world -and me-  can love me, then I can love myself. This was a huge breakthrough I had about 6 years ago, but for some reason, I let it slip. It was much easier to get back to learning to love myself since I had done it once before, but it was still difficult. I have to remind myself e v e r y  d a y that it is OKAY to not be perfect.

Since then, the love I have for myself and my husband has dramatically changed. Not because I loved him less before, but because I am actually able to believe Jake when he tells me he loves me. And when I tell him i love him, it’s not out of habit. I mean it. It is honest, bitter-less, pure love. I am confident because I am the daughter of Christ.

Ladies, do yourself and your husband a favor. Treat yourself, feel good about your self. You are beautiful, intelligent and Jesus made YOU and loves you no matter what.. who are you to deny yourself your own love?

 

A Full Year of Lessons

Just a month ago, Jake and I celebrated our 1 year anniversary! YAY! I have learned to much in this past year, it is actually kind of sad. I never would guessed that I knew so little about myself, my husband and marriage in general. This journey has been incredibly difficult, but incredibly beautiful all in the same breath.

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Daily, I challenge myself to see the little lessons I can learn from my own marriage, other’s marriages and from the Lord. One of the greatest desires of my heart – for as long as I can remember – is to be a Godly, god-fearing and loving wife to a man that my future children would call Daddy. My heart consistently yearns to grow closer to the Lord and to love the Lord so that I am able to love my husband as I was created to and will forever desire to do.

My heart is to challenge men and women, who recently got married, who are about to embark on this beautiful journey or those who just want to learn for future reference, to keep pushing through. The burning flame inside of you quickly begins to dim and sometimes you can’t feel it at all. Why? Because love is a choice – an action. I choose to love Jake every morning when I wake up or even when I trip over the laundry he left in the floor. Actually, that never (just) happened! Reminding myself of some of the lessons I have learned over the past year, has given me the ability to choose love daily.

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I have listed a few of the many lessons I have learned in the past year. Most lessons were from trial and error, but some were subtle whispers from my Abba Father. Over the next couple weeks, I will post an explanation, logic behind my madness and some fun stories to share with you.

1. I have to love myself before I can truly allow my husband to love me.

2. What’s mine is his and what’s his is mine.

3. Living with a boy is gross

4. Even though I know my husband always thinks I am beautiful, I should never let myself slack

5. Our relationships with the Lord always look different and that is just fine

6. Fighting only the battles that are worth fighting

7. Speaking life into my husband, daily

8. Creating closeness with my husband is not always about deep, heart-filled or emotional conversations

9. ALWAYS HAVE AS MUCH FUN AS POSSIBLE

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If there are any questions or anything you would like further explanation of, please don’t hesitate to comment below! Also, if there are some more lessons I could learn, let me know! I am constantly working to be the best wife I possibly can!

As always, thank you so much for stopping by, let me know you did and say hello!

With Love,
Erin Vandiver

Let’s Go

Let’s go on an adventure. Seriously. Let’s go! You’re too busy? With what? Cleaning the dishes? Doing the laundry? Stop making excuses.

ADVENTURE

I am not very good at doing the same things every day and every weekend. Sit around? Relax? Clean? I get so tired of relaxing! That doesn’t make much sense, does it? Well it does to me, so just go with it, alright? One of my favorite things is finding adventures where I don’t have to be a hurry or worry about anything. Jake and I have found that one of our favorite things to do on Saturdays is hike. Not hiking like the serious people, but hiking to relax, enjoy each other, enjoy nature and sometimes watch each other trip over sticks! Ha!

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We usually get up early (or try to), head to a place we have never been to and take off walking. ALL. DAY. LONG. Sometimes, it doesn’t last that long because we don’t know which trials to go on or how long it will take, like this weekend. Yesterday, we went to Arkansas, we arrived around 11, and upon recommendation, started on a 2 mile hike. It only took us about 2-ish hours to complete but at that point it was 1pm and the other trail was about 5 miles long and we weren’t sure what we wanted to do. Instead of having to hurry through the next hike to get out before dark, we decided to take off and drive. We drove through the mountains of the Ozark’s with the top off the jeep and no GPS and rarely having cell service! Who doesn’t want cell phone service? This girl, right here. I wanted to climb a mountain and spend time with my husband, not text my day away.

There is something rejuvenating about going on an adventure. You get to discover parts of yourself that you’ve never known before. I found out that I was actually slightly afraid of heights, who knew? Jake found out that driving is sometimes worth what’s down the road a little ways. Do yourselves a favor and find adventure. Whether that’s going canoeing, riding a bike in through the city, going on a hike, or just touring a place you’ve never been. It’s one of the best things my husband and I do for our marriage. We get to chat about silly things and learn how to spend time together without speaking, just enjoying each other.

Let me know how you find adventure in this crazy world!

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With love,
Erin

Attaining Perfection

“I don’t want to do this anymore. I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to do this anymore. I do not want to be here.”

Those are the first words a mother, father and brother heard after finding their 15 year old daughter foaming out of her mouth in the closet. They panicked, what family wouldn’t? They hadn’t seen the intensity of the pain until that moment, they thought this was it. Rock bottom. In fact, most would consider that, “rock bottom”, but it wasn’t for her.

Rock bottom was actually feeling pain, hurt, abandonment and suffering again. Rock bottom was not having the drugs to mask it all. Rock bottom was people knowing her faults. Rock bottom was admitting she wasn’t perfect.

If you haven’t figured it out, this was me five short years ago.

Though unattainable, perfection seems to be quite the desire in this world.

“3 Steps to Perfect Hair!”
“11 Ways to Have the Perfect Marriage”
“How to Have the Perfect College Career”

Let’s be honest, I may think your hair is perfect, but do you? Can you really have a “perfect marriage”? And who are they to tell you what the perfect college career is going to be?

Believing we can achieve perfection is probably one of the biggest lies of Satan. If he can get you to believe that you can attain perfection, suddenly, you either become prideful or insecure. Our Heavenly Father does not long for us to be either of those, simply to be madly in love with Him and only him.

“Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.” Proverbs 16:18

Pride: Noun – “a feeling or deep pleasure or satisfaction derived from one’s own achievements.” We have nothing to be prideful in other than our God. Without Him, that car you just bought, would not exist. That voice you have to worship with, is His, not yours. The success you have would be impossible without His gentle hand in everything we do.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Psalm 139:13

Insecure: Adjective – “a person not confident or assured; uncertain and anxious.” Why would we be insecure if the God of all the world Created you exactly how He wanted us? He made us in His own image and likeness (Genesis 1:27)! We get the incomparable honor to carry out the image and likeness of the Creator of the world. How cool is that? So why are we insecure? Because we don’t see our worth unless we reach perfection, which we will never attain.

When we start to compare and try to measure up to other people, our worth for ourselves depletes. We lose all love we ever even maybe had for ourselves. We get further away from the person we truly should be. We lose sight of the perfection of Christ. Christ was the only human to live a blameless life, He was the only one who achieved perfection. This realization is what changed my life. I do not have to be perfect because Christ was perfect for me.From a former perfectionist, I can say, no longer having to strive for something unachievable and a lie is one of the best feelings.  Christ was my Hope and my Truth. He is now what I strive to be like. Not the girl with the cute scarf and adorable boots with the latte sitting next to me, but my Savior. He is my hope. He has set me free from the idealism of perfection.

Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:5

The fact that my God loves me enough to not expect me to be perfect for Him, is such a beautiful thing. All I want in this life, is to have such a relationship with Jesus that people see it everywhere I go. Not because I want the attention, but because I want to bring Him glory. I want people to see the love and hope He offers every single one of his children. The freedom from the lies, the hope we have in Him, the joy he brings every morning is something He desires for everyone. Your Heavenly Father does not expect perfection, all he wants is for you to take His hand and dance through this crazy life with Him. He loves us enough to give us the choice to take His hand. He is a gentleman, He will not force Himself, but He will always be there to take your hand when you are ready. Take it, let Him wrap His arms around you and love on you. Let Him show you the love and joy you’ve been longing for. Stop trying to be perfect for the people around you, because in the end, what does their opinion really matter anyways? We focus on being more like Jesus, rather than the “perfection” the world asks, it’s not nearly as hard to find your worth. You are worth more than you can imagine to your Heavenly Father. Embrace it.

God is love. Everything He does is in love. He’s undoubtedly shown me His love every day of my life, even when I choose not to see it. Even on my darkest days, He is there ready to comfort me. We just have to allow Him. His love for us surpasses all understanding; we cannot even fathom how much He cares for us. If we knew and believed how much He loved us for who He created us to be, would we want to be something different? Or would we let Him love us? There’s nothing we can do to stop God from loving us, so why don’t we just embrace it? And start showing others the love He has for them.

Don’t forget brothers and sisters, sometimes we are the only Jesus people see in the day. Be a good representation of Him, bring the love people need. Love the brokenhearted. Remember, Jesus loves you day in and day out as well in our deepest darkest times, so why don’t we follow His example of love? Pray for people to just experience the overwhelming love, peace and joy of our Father. Pray for those you know, pray for those you don’t like, pray for those you LOVE. Pray for the leaders in your church, pray for the kids in your church, just pray. Sometimes, all people need is to feel loved and worthy of love.

Stop believing the lies of satan and listen to the Truth of Christ. You are a child of God and there’s nothing on this earth, nothing you can do, nothing you can say, that will ever change that.