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

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

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.