Oh my, how I love my friend Erin who is full of life and just plain fun!!! I know her from working at Stonegate Christian Academy (which she is an alumni….when it was Shady Grove Christian Academy.) She is the daughter of one my colleagues and after meeting up with her a few times while judging at speech tournaments and other places (the grocery story) I knew I needed to be around this girl more often.
She is a foodie too!!! In fact when she met up with me last week for coffee she had a brisket, potato casserole, and muffins made for me. I love it when friends give me food!!! Especially ones that are good cooks.
Erin has been known to write on occasion for Gateway’s women’s ministry magazine called G magazine. Her bio that she uses for it is absolutely perfect so I asked her if I could use it.
Erin Sullivan works with Gateway’s events team. She loves breaking into song on a regular basis and wishes real life could be a musical. She’s single and ready to mingle. Visit her blog at domesticanddates.wordpress.com.
Everytime I hang out with Erin I get filled up and look at the world in full color. As a person who has a tendency to just want to be very serious and think of the deep spiritual things all day…I have been told I am a little intense by some people…Erin helps me lighten up and remember that the Lord is for me and loves me oh so very much.
Me: How are you having your coffee today?
Erin: I am having an iced coffee because it is hot and in the middle of the day. I normally have hot coffee on cold days at all times of the day, but on hot days…only in the morning or late at night.
Me: Then it would have to be decaf.
Erin: For sure decaf late at night…or hey…let me vacuum my floors at 3 am. Why not? (chuckles)
Me: Hey…that’s some good cleaning.
Erin: That is exactly right!! I am great at staying up late to clean…I am not great at getting to work on time.
Me: I will ask quickly so you can get back to work on time. Okay, if you could have coffee with anyone dead or alive who would it be and why?
Erin: Well…this is probably a sad kind of answer but it would be my ex-husband. I would just like to know about his life and I would like him to know about mine. And aside from us being happy or unhappy together. I would have loved the opportunity to know about his heart beyond what I knew at that time. I didn’t value things like that then. People are so much more broad…so…him. But that’s kind of sad. I don’t want people to be like…what a depressing answer!!!………or my great grand dad. He was very intregal when segregation was still at play in the state of Texas. He was very influencial with the African American community and really lobbied for them. I would love to talk to him about what’s happening now with cities and what I could be doing in my life. ‘Cause he lived his life and he was very influential with people, but sometimes it is hard to just make that first step…or the first connection. I’m sorry I gave you two answers.
Me: No…that’s fine…cheater. Okay…I will start getting into the stuff I really need to glean…because it really is all about me. And I really need to learn things…so…what are you learning right now? What is the Lord talking to you about now? Where are you hanging out in scripture?
Erin: I am a Psalms girl…all the time. And unless I am studying something really specific I will always be in the psalms. The Psalms will always be the first part of my Bible to fall out. I had to go get a new Bible because the psalms were just falling out…it was also a hard back and I was flipping it open and it doesn’t really work that way….so…um…I love the Psalms. And in any season I feel that they are appropriate. You know? But I feel like He is challenging me to set goals. I feel like He is saying look this is a season for setting and achieving goals. I feel like there’s a new favor for me on setting and achieving goals. And just realizing on really being disciplined with Him and being habitual. I feel like He is kind of challenging me to go to places that I feel like I have consistently failed. And I feel like there is new favor to succeed. I feel a little more challenged…not in a scary way but in a…huh?….what does this mean…kind of a vibe.
Me: What does your quiet time usually look like?
Erin: Quiet time in the week is usually at night when I get into bed. I am not an early morning person. I am always scrambling to get out of the door. It is not always successful in the morning. A quiet time will be with the devotional book that I have, some scripture, and some prayer time. But I really love when I feel that the Lord is resting over me as I sleep. I know that it is so awesome to set aside our first part of the day but I think that there is so much of my life that has struggled in sleep and struggled in dreams…and I don’t know. I love that sometimes I can feel Him when I wake up. You know? He was there all night. He was there with me. That’s usually on a weekend. Because I am a lingerer…and I really have to connect with His presence to spend time. So if I don’t have time to do that then I am not going to have a really great moment. So on the weekends if I don’t have anything going on I make coffee…I make something for breakfast…and then I have more worship time. That’s how I connect with God. I turn on my iTunes list and piddling around and I just say…alright Jesus…I want to welcome you into this space and this moment…and I am bringing you all of the stuff you saw from my week…we can process it now. Now we have space and capacity to talk about all of it. What do you want to say? That’s what my quiet time looks like when I have a lot of time. Where I can just be…for a while I studied Habbakuk and I really studied what it looks like to rebuild something that has been destroyed. So I would spend like an hour on Saturday…like I am not a big studier of the Word…but I was reading different versions. I was trying to get deep. I feel like I probably wasn’t getting very deep and that everyone else would be like …wow…that’s the most basic…Bible 101. (Chuckles from the both of us)
Me: It was sooo deep you don’t understand…You could have written a disertation!
Erin: I know!!
Me: Okay…so..one of the things that I love most about you is how you talk to the Lord and how you hear Him so clearly. So…how do you hear God?
Erin: Um..well I think the enemy’s greatest idea is to disarm by saying, “Oh, that’s just you.” “That’s just too good.” “God doesn’t really speak to you.” So my whole life I struggled with…no I bought into his lie…because it is so subtle and it makes so much sense. Like…oh no…that IS too good…and it DOES sound like my voice. Gateway has a amazing classes on hearing God and I had some really good friends that kind of modeled for me…what is a process I can start applying? Hearing the Lord is like playing an instrument. It is like working out a muscle. If I am not using it…I am not going to get better. If I go weeks without doing it I am going to be rusty when I try and do it again. I feel like the process God gave me is to silence the voice of the enemy. So the first thing that I have to do is I tell the enemy that where I am the space that I am in he has to be silent. And I submit my mind to the Holy Spirit and I ask Him only of what is your kingdom. God I am bowing low and getting low and I am asking you to come. I am submitting my mind and I am saying that I am trusting that if I start hearing stuff that it is not me. Then I bring praise. Psalm 100 says “Enter with the password thank you. Make Yourself at home talking praise.” And I feel like that is such a key if I’m like…not feeling really spiritual…but if I start telling the Lord, “God, thank you that I woke up with a roof over my head.” “Thank you that I woke up in a bed.” All those things really prime my heart to really connect with Him. And then I quiet my mind. What I like to do is get where I can BE…for awhile. I am in a seated position to where I can not get uncomfortable quickly, and I just close my eyes and I just think about how I submitted my mind to God…I silenced the voice of the enemy…I’ve brought praise…then I just think about the first initial of my first name…for me that is an E. So I start thinking about that letter E. That’s telling my mind to be still…it is telling my mind to be quiet. It is so hard to not think about a billion things at one time. So I tell myself that this is going to be a moment that we are going to be still and quiet, and that’s a process to get there. So I just think about that letter and then start asking God questions. God am I hearing you? God do you see me? And I usually have questions from my own heart that I want to bring. If people are just starting out I like to say to ask questions like, “God if we could go anywhere in the world where would you want to go?” I like to ask very non spiritual questions ’cause I think sometimes we get very…and I did this….I didn’t think I was hearing the Lord for the longest time because He wasn’t speaking to me a scripture or a biblical symbol or something. I put Him so in a box…I didn’t think that He would speak to me for me. And so…I just ask really nonspiritual questions with people of the Lord. “What do you love to do with me?” “How do you like to be with me that’s not prayer or fasting or reading my Bible?” Because I feel that if we can start doing that then we can build a little process and then I can start to recognize what His voice sounds like.
Me: Now…have there been times when you didn’t hear from God?
Erin: I think there are seasons of quiet. I think there are seasons where He does stay quiet but I don’t think that He does that when we are just starting to hear Him. For a long time I just didn’t really know how to hear Him, so I wasn’t hearing Him because I was saying…oh that sounds like my voice…so that can’t be God’s voice…or oh that sounds too good for me. So a lot of the times I was discounting what God was saying because it sounded too good…but He IS good. In my humanity and in my brokenness I would think…that can’t be really You because that is too good for me. So I think more than seasons of not hearing Him are seasons of where I thought I was not hearing Him. If I have gone a really long time without waiting on Him…I have to go back and say…Okay…I’m gonna do my little process for myself. I’m going to take a moment and just be and sit and wait. And it feels like if you try and run a marathon and you haven’t trained for it…it’s not going to work out…you know? It just feels like doing something like that. Where you’re exercising this muscle…I’m not familiar with it…it feels clunky…and rickety…and not as fluid as I wish it was…but fluidity comes with practice. So most of the time when I feel like I haven’t been hearing the Lord…sometimes I HAVE had Him be silent…..but most of the time it is just that I am disqualifying what He is saying because I don’t think its Him.
Me: I had a question that just came up in mind…and I think it is a very specific question that the Lord has designed just for you. I don’t think I will ask this to anyone else. If the world was your playground…what would just make you sore? If the Lord was like…go…and you would just go play? What would be the thing that you would have so much fun?
Erin: If I could just see everything. If I could experience everything. Like I love traveling and I love tasting delicious food. I think that that is one of the things that God likes to do with me…like I start my quiet time…I make coffee…I turn on music…I usually make a breakfast. I feel like God is in that with me. I feel like when I experience delicious food or amazing culture…it is amazing to see God in those spaces. So…it would be just seeing everything. If I could see everything…that would be so amazing…and taste everything. And really live it. I feel like my life is a kind of exciting living organism…not that other people aren’t exciting…but there is so much to be experienced. That’s what I want. So even in seasons…I’ve been thinking a lot lately about dark places. I was saying I’m thankful for the dark because it makes me value the light. It wouldn’t feel as deep. I feel like some people who haven’t experienced some harsh places …that their happy but they don’t know how valuable those happy places are because they don’t know how harsh things can be. I like seeing the good in really devastating places. I’ve been able to see some things like that. Amazing things in horrible situations that make me want to say…okay…I’ll take this…I’ll hang on to it. It’s valuable. Not every experience goes that way but that is what I kind of feel like my life is like. I want to see everything. I want to experience every culture…in that way…and not just in a tourist way.
Me: What ignites you for the Kingdom? What sets you on fire?
Erin: I think it is connecting people to God’s presence. I know that for me a lot of times that looks like teaching people to hear from the Lord or operating in a prophetic way. Because it’s like I get to take…I see it a lot in my small group. Seeing people really connect to His heart for them and experiencing the depths of what THAT is in His presence. You know…it’s not about rules or check lists…it’s about…He designed you to be yourself. He designed you perfectly to be who you are…a lot of times our biggest hang ups and our biggest places aren’t necessarily where the enemy has a gain or demons are working in you but places where we have experienced pain and we have agreed with the enemy. And God’s greatest love would be to say, “Hey…there’s this couch in your heart.” …I like to think about it like if my heart was an apartment…and I have this disgusting couch in there. Its beat up and gross that I found on the side of the road…and that couch represents an agreement line with the enemy in a place pain and a place of hardship. And God is saying, “Hey…I’ve got this really cute Pottery Barn couch that I would like to trade for you.” And so it’s just like saying okay…you come and meet me in this place of pain…let’s go back to it….let’s invite you in….and we are going to make this little trade. God has done that for me over and over again. It’s like I invite You into this place of deep pain…show me where I agreed with the enemy…and I give you this hideous couch….and you give me this beautiful one. And my life is forever different. So I think really seeing people come alive in that way where they are connecting with the Lord in a way that they thought they never thought they could.
Me: This will be my last question. Tell me about your Savior.
Erin: What I love about Jesus…is cause I feel like….there’s this picture that my friend had forever. It was a picture of Jesus playing soccer with a bunch of kids and He was having the best time. Yes, Jesus is very holy…God is holy, but I think there is great value to…He enjoys us…He delights in us…like He tells me jokes sometimes. Like I get real tickled. I know it’s silly but that’s how He is. He is so fun. And He is all about us living in a full way not just…we’re gonna live and read the Bible…but living with people and experiencing life and fullness and He’s provided that for us. He’s provided the freedom that like every darkest place He would choose us again. I love to think about that. On my worst day…where I fail the most costly….Jesus would still choose to get on the cross for me. And He would do it over and over again and He would redeem my pain over and over again just so He could be with me. He values me that much. I don’t think I’m that valuable but He does. I love that He redeems every piece. He redeems the darkest piece. I feel like the darkest places in my life the deepest places of pain He gives them something to make them valuable He didn’t orchestrate them necessarily. He wasn’t arranging those things for me…but He makes them worth value…when I submit it to Him. And so I just think you know…there’s so many places where people say, “Well God’s just requiring all this of me…” When really He’s not. He’s really just loving you and chasing you down. And I think one of the ways that I saw that the most is when my ex-husband was dying and we had been divorced and things looked horrible and I had tried my hardest to follow what the Lord’s heart was even in the darkest place…and God was really faithful to me. I was praying for my ex-husband and I was believing for him and He ended up passing away, and when that happened God showed me all along that He had been chasing him walking totally away from Him as much as He was chasing me. It didn’t have anything to do with whether or not I chose Him or I didn’t…all that mattered was that God loved us so greatly that He would pursue us equally…if we were chasing Him down too…or if we are totally walking the opposite way…His heart for us is just the same. I am so thankful for that picture of how He is good and kind and faithful….even if we are not. That’s not an excuse for anything but it is just a staggering picture of how He loves us.
I am going to start doing a devotional at night too. I love love LOVE my morning quiet time…because it is when the house is most quiet. With a 4 month old and a 3 year old….quiet time is difficult to get unless you wake up early. But after hearing Erin talk about how she likes to feel the Lord rest over her as she sleeps. I want that. The night time has been an issue for me in the past with bad nightmares and fear, so this would just be another step in drawing close to the Lord before going into the next section of my day…sleep.
Now I had already gleaned from Erin months prior her method of listening to the voice of the Lord. It is very practical and I have heard the Lord more clearly in the last few months than ever before. However, the question, “How do you like to be with me that’s not prayer or fasting or reading my Bible?” That is a question that I have never asked the Lord before. Actually, I have never asked any question like that before of the Lord. Does He even like being around me when I am not praying, fasting, reading my Bible, teaching biblical studies, etc.? Yes, He does, but I don’t act that way and I certainly don’t pray that way.
It has been a week since I have hung out with Erin, and the Lord has revealed to me through my relationship with my children that He indeed does like to spend time with us even when we aren’t doing spiritual things. While watching my daughter play dress up and make believe with her toys He gently reveals to me that that is one of my favorite ways to spend time with her. When my 4 month old son is discovering his toes for the first time and giggling at all of my funny faces…that is one of my favorite ways to spend time with him…so…the Lord must have a favorite way to spend time with me. He is personal. He is my father…my daddy. He loves me and I will now begin asking that question…Daddy, How do you like to be with me that’s not prayer or fasting or reading my Bible?
My last gleaning kind of made me tear up as I listened back on our interview to type it up. It is when Erin said, “On my worst day…where I fail the most costly…Jesus would still choose to get on the cross for me.” Oh my…Jesus loves me. I know that I have said that several times in my posts but I really can’t get over it. He loves me….when I repeatedly try and do things on my own, or walk in fear, and distrust Him. On my darkest day He would look at me and STILL choose to get on the cross for me. He would do it for me and He would do it for you.
Till next time…Happy gleaning.