The pains (+joys) of becoming an adult

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Recently my church hosted a women’s ministry kick-off event where I was one of 3 speakers, sharing a testimony of how I’ve seen God work in my life. I looked out on the crowd of women mostly in their mid-30s-40s, and several older women and joked that since I was 26 my friends thought I was a ‘real adult now’. They laughed, I laughed. But actually sometimes it’s hard.

As if the transition out of university wasn’t scary enough, the first few steps of real independence are wobbly. If I didn’t have a community of people around me who have been there to help support me I think I would live a much more stressed life.

Getting my own apartment this year was a huge step up, and an exciting move. Independence feels refreshing.

But let’s be honest, being a ‘grown up’ sometimes sucks.

Like that time my internet got hacked. Yeah. There’s NO WAY I downloaded 50GB of data on a day I went apple picking and went to the gym. Sorry – not buying it, but being charged for it… I’m technically challenged – I can DO technical things but it’s painful. So trying to figure out how to login to the router website and change my password…. so annoying. Thankfully it’s done and hopefully there will be no more stealing of said internet data. Please God please. 

Or that time I forgot my keys and had to break into my bedroom window (which doesn’t lock), but then later heard that there’s been break-ins all over the city and I’m like, “Great some crazy person is going to crawl in my window right beside my bed!” So there I am getting a piece of wood and bracing the window so some thief/rapist can’t break in. Being an adult forces you to be resourceful. Also I’m way too trusting of the general public until after something goes wrong then I usually need to make changes. I’m growing in being pre-emptive.

Being gritty for my friends

A bunch of my friends are going through this right now too. Even still as I have a few years on them, and I watch them learn the lessons that Booster Juice really isn’t dinner, and yes you actually need 8hrs of sleep to be functional at work, I’m kinda glad. Growing up feels hard – and I know the older generations want to scream “cry my a river” at all of us Millennials (except they probably wouldn’t know that JT reference).

Change is hard. It requires us to step out of our comfort zones and realize that the world isn’t as peachy keen as we thought it was as kids (and deluded ourselves that it was in university when we forgo responsibilities). Growing up requires us to problem solve, and accept consequences for behavior. It requires us to pay out hard earned money even if we barely have any in our bank account. And it sometimes involves us wasting said money foolishly because we really needed to learn the lesson to not hit other people’s cars or give strangers money thinking they would pay us back. I think those are mistakes we won’t make again…

Being courageous and gritty for my friends who are following in my ‘adulting’ footsteps is an honor. To say, “I’ve been there – you’re not alone” is a privilege. To encourage them, “It’ll get better, just keep making those smalls steps at a time.” To even ‘grow up’ in our mid-twenties is actually a gift, given and fought for by millions of other people that had a vision for the way that our lives and society could be.

My grandpa grew up at 14 in the war

These ‘life lessons’ of adulting are a deep privilege I have at experiencing in my mid-twenties. I get frustrated when people my age get flack for dealing with change like growing up and judged because of their age in experiencing it. My grandpa experienced what I’m going through now much earlier in his early teens when he lived in London during the war. His older brothers and father fought in the army and his younger siblings and mom had to flee the city for northern England because the city was getting attacked with bombs. He had to drop out of school (which is a shame because he actually was really smart), and stay at home to protect it from robbers. (Ok, if I had to stay at home alone at 14 and protect the house from thieves and sleep with a baseball bat beside my bed, I would have had a panic attack every time the floor squeaked.)

He worked in a grocery store and even saw his boss get killed one day when the air raids went off and a bomb hit their building. I can’t imagine experiencing that level of trauma and responsibility as a teenager. And I deeply value the sacrifice that he and my family, and millions of other people made to protect our nation so that I could live a life filled with education, and safety.

My grandpa fought in a war so that I could live a thriving life and ‘adult’ in my mid-twenties.

He fought so that I wouldn’t have to be forced grow up as a child living in wartime. I feel humbled when I read stories and hear experiences of people who live in other war-torn places around the world, who are forced to grow up too young in this generation. It breaks my heart and it honestly makes me want to cry, thanking God that I was blessed to have things like swimming lessons, that I was forced to practice for spelling tests, and watched The Magic School Bus after school.

So the pains of ‘adulting’ are a gift. They are a joy. Getting scammed and having my internet hacked makes me want to go boo-hoo. But if that’s the worst that I experience in the transition period of living in the real world – I’ll take it.

Erinblack

 

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I didn’t expect to find myself here.

The mist rose over the water on a perfectly calm lake on a crisp autumn morning. It’s so beautiful, I thought. And I wasn’t supposed to be here. In fact if the year of 2017 went as “planned” I was to be overseas navigating a new culture and winding through the busy streets of Northern Europe. I made a move like expected to, but instead I moved back to a familiar city and the opposite of far from home.

Does life ever go the way it’s supposed to? Rarely. And I’m deeply grateful.

God’s grace can manifest itself in different ways – for me this year it was in God saying “no”, when I was asking, no begging, for him to say “yes”. Yes to a relationship. Yes to moving overseas. I went overseas in February and instead of affirming my plans to move there it dramatically re-directed me towards moving back home. Instead of the birth of the relationship I was hoping for, God led me into a summer of relational silence where I was confronted with things that were deeply buried in my heart. Questions about God’s goodness, and my worth and value. Questions about belonging.

The silence in my life gave extra space to just sit in God’s presence. I could hear things that previous seasons of busyness and stress subdued and hid. Silence in my heart allowed me to hear God’s voice and his invitations to come back to him.

God often strips away things in our life to make more room for him.

Later this summer I ended up at summer camp, serving as a camp counselor. In God’s perfect timing and graciousness he blessed me with healing and closure from that non-existent relationship I was hoping for. I swung in a hammock in Muskoka without any contact to the outside world, basked in the sun with my Bible, and heard from God. His love for me. His care. His provision and goodness. Swung in his presence. The world spun madly on and I ran to him for comfort and rest. Physically, being a camp counselor was exhausting. Yet my heart was resting with his. He was in control and I could trust him with anything.

Why does faith at summer camp seem so simple and pure? I miss that.

Coming home I dove back into work, thinking how my move home and transition to a new job was the right decision. And it was. God foresaw things I could never see, and he knew when he led me to this decision what I would need. Safety. Security. Stability. A year to dig deeper into hurts that have laid buried in my heart for a long time. A year to pursue holistic health, change my diet and actually go to the gym.

I didn’t expect to find myself in this place, and just because it’s the right place it doesn’t make it easy.

Sometimes, even when we know we’re in the place that God has destined for us, we still grieve what could have been. We grieve what we expected God to do in our lives. We grieve what we thought we needed. A surrender and acceptance of what God gives doesn’t always prevent us from the pain of lack. A favourite writer Lore Wilbert commented on this Gift of Lack earlier this summer. That pain from the gift of lack doesn’t define us or need to control our present reality. But it can be offered back to God as more material for sacrifice (see Elisabeth Elliot for more on this).

Active faith is a daily choice to say, God this feels hard. But I’m going to trust that you are good and are leading me down the right path. Help me entrust this day to you and rely on your strength to finish what you have called me to do. 

Active faith looks like just doing the next thing. Whatever that next thing is. Going to work. Folding laundry. Cooking dinner. Watering plants. One step at a time, trusting God for our daily bread and trusting that he will guide us as we cling to time. Hiding ourselves in his presence and saying: Lord your will be done in my life. Here are my expectations and dreams. Take them to do with what you will.

I didn’t expect to find myself in this place this year. It’s a good place and sometimes feels like a hard place. But that’s okay. God doesn’t promise that life is always like a box of chocolates. He promises something much better: himself in the midst of the journey.

 

 

 

2017: My Year of “Why Not?”

I’m not one to make New Years Resolutions, plans, or promises of “change”. Actually I’m fairly cynical of such things, and it even took me years (literally) to even enjoy celebrating New Years at all – much thanks to the sweet NYE parties at the annual conference I attend.

But two weeks in to 2017 a theme is emerging: WHY NOT? I’m finding myself on the precipice of change. New seasons. Finding myself in a place where I’m forced to grieve old memories and let go – in order to move forward. But moving forward is hard, especially when I walk into the unknown and uncertainty.

At first I felt really scared: where was God going to lead me next? The last time I was in this place (3 years ago), it ended up being a hard transition – one of the hardest years of my life. I’m scared to experience that again (even if it was totally right, and what I needed). To step into the unknown and take a step of faith into something new. To leave the known and secure. Am I ready?

Actually, I think so. Even though the past 3 years has been challenging – it’s been strengthening, maturing, and stabilizing. I feel more self aware, more equipped, and ready to encounter new challenges with grace. I’ve spent the past 2 weeks with an annoying cold that isn’t going away – but I’ve also received more clarity and confirmation of next steps I need to take.


SO, 2017 looks like it’ll be my year of saying, “Why Not?” to:

  • Being on 3 continents (EEK – Africa?)
  • Affirming healthy boundaries in relationships
  • Living out forgiveness and reconciliation (it’s hard)
  • Moving overseas? (I’ve decided to apply!)
  • Finishing a seminary program
  • Pursuing new hobbies + talents (more on this on my next post)
  • Saying no + protecting Sabbath rest
  • New financial goals to invest in my future

I’m excited for what’s to come – and I hope to blog about what ends up happening right here on this blog. Thanks for journeying with me!

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Erinblack

A Winter Wonderland [Photo Dump]

Spending 4 days in Rousseau at Muskoka Woods was a (winter) dream come true. I’m grateful to work for an organization that deeply cares for its staff – not only our day-to-day work but also our hearts. So at the end of a busy semester of school, escaping away to reflect, and spend time with God was a gem. I took my film camera with me, and my Moment tele lens to take some of these photos (film still yet to be developed).

There were blizzards, and snow drifts up to my knees. We went sledding, and did indoor rock climbing and sports. We played board games, had fun and sang songs.

What are some things you love about winter?

New [to me] Products I Love

I love discovering new products that either make my life easier, OR are beautiful and give me lots of joy. This year has actually been full of hearing about new companies, trying new products and establishing new favourites.

Here’s my top picks:

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This is a beauty company that sells products for face, body, kids + make up – all using products that are SAFE and healthy for you. First heard about it over the summer from fellow blogger Emily Morrice and ordered some products through her. Top picks (so far): Nourishing Cream Cleanser, Nourishing Day Cream, Citrus Mimosa Body Bar, Daily Shampoo + the Charcoal Cleansing Bar.

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For my fellow photography lovers out there: who doesn’t love beautiful products, stunning paper and intricate design? Artifact Uprising is a company that uses recycled products and wants to help you tell your story. Well I told mine this year through ordering a Wood Calendar for Mothers Day, Square Prints sharing memories with my closest friends, and a Softcover Photo Book highlighting the best moments of Quebec City. Super impressed with their customer service, I think this will be a company I’ll use for a LONG time.

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More photography! The sleek design of the external lenses for my iphone are incredible and help me take excellent photos. Moment boasts of the world’s best glass lenses for your phone – and they may be right. I ordered the tele lense for my birthday this summer and it shot stellar photos while I was in Quebec City. Although with any other photography related product, it won’t deliver an automatically good photo. You actually need composition skills, lighting experience and a good subject. But their incredible app helps too! Also check out their sweet blog the Momentist.

Enjoy!

Erinblack

[Photo Dump] Highlights of 2016

Whew 8 months feels long to be away from this blog. So much has happened in my life, and it’s happened off the internet. Well, except for my Instagram. I love writing, and being creative. My job has taken up much of my creative juices with writing, overseeing Communications, and juggling one too many plates in the air.

A ton has happened to me this year, from launching a new job role, traveling the country, cycling in summer, ballet in winter, and now preparing for more travel adventures in 2017. Here’s some travel highlights (+ things I love) for 2016:

It was a fabulous year!

Erinblack

la ville de Québec!

Ok so my French skills are zero , but I do have exciting news. This summer as I celebrate the big 25, I’ll be basking in the late summer sun of Quebec City! With the throng of hundreds of other tourists I’m sure. It’s going to be magical. Road trip, outdoor cafes, the Plains of Abraham.. do I need to say more?

I’ll be the embarrassing English girl trying to order vin et fromage, and taking way too many photos (I already have ideas for making a photo book) – but it’s going to be amazing. I’ve never been on a trip like this with my mom before. I think it’s going to be a great opportunity. We’ve booked an amazing hotel and later in the spring I’m sure we can start to plan out exactly what we want to see and do. Feel free to comment below with any tips if you’ve been!

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source: http://www.quebecregion.com

Summer can you arrive any faster?

Erinblack

Returning to the mountains: I am new.

F1000006The last time I was in British Columbia my heart was breaking. I’d like to think I was a victim, but I made some pretty poor choices to get me to that place. No healthy boundaries, unrealistic expectations, and I just couldn’t let go.

Once you say “I love you” for the first time, in the same moment that guy is breaking up with you – yup it’s pretty much all downhill from there.

Providence was good to me and 2 weeks later I was packing my bags and on a plane headed for the west coast. I was angry, devastated, and heartbroken. Standing on a beach on Vancouver Island, looking at mountains was healing. I needed the silence and the distraction. The blossoming of new friendships, and the reminders of who I really was. I needed perspective, and clarity. I held my ground. 5 weeks passed, and then I was headed home.

The real work of healing my heart would last for another 7 months until I boarded another plane for India. That time for 4 months. Wow my life has had it’s fair share of drama. I’m really glad that chapter is closed. Not the India part – that was the best.

In a month I return to those same mountains, but a completely different person. 5 years has passed and my life has been dramatically transformed. I return still feeling like the girl who doesn’t know where her life is headed. But solid in where I’ve been and who I am. I know how to say “no” to unhealthy people. To fight for the relationships that truly matter. I’m learning how to pick my battles. Growing as a leader, yet desperately still needing guidance on how to love and serve others.

The heartbreak that once filled my life doesn’t exist anymore. My life is full, pleasant, and not boring. But I would be lying if I said I didn’t crave the rush or thrill of first love again. But I’m not desperate for it. Nope. Content with where I am, and hopeful with where I’m headed.

I return to those mountains with excitement, instead of grief. Passion, instead of sorrow. I feel like I’ve come full circle a little bit. I’m only 24 but perspective is still powerful.

Mountains, I can’t wait to see you again. See you in 35 days.

Erinblack

Deep Courage when Fear + Insecurity Strikes

F1000021Sometimes we need deep courage.

When we get out of bed. When we walk into work. On the phone with our mom. Facing that friend. Going to church. Life isn’t easy.

Lately for me, I’ve needed deep courage in ballet class. Leotards and tights. Buns and ballet slippers. What was once an excitement and highlight of my week, I now feel exposed and out of place. Looking at myself in the mirror, I can’t help but notice how my legs are larger than the girls beside me at the barre. Or how my feet don’t point as much as theirs. Or how my shoulders are wider. Fears that I’m not good enough, or too much, ring through my head. I need deep courage to persevere and focus on being healthy and working towards building a strong body. What do you need deep courage for? 

Often when we look at our surroundings, circumstances or fears can hold us back and whisper lies into our ears that we can’t do it.

I think Peter felt that way in Matthew 14:22-33. Exhausted from ministry, running from overwhelming crowds, Jesus’ disciples entered a boat to cross the lake while Jesus needed time in solitude on the mountain to pray. In the boat, the waves crashed and the storm blew fiercely. In the deep night, the disciples looked and saw Jesus walking towards them on the water – completely unfazed by the crazy weather going on around them. In the midst of what seemed like pure chaos, Jesus was calm and in control. 

Jesus called out to them, seeing their fear and said, “Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.” In the midst of the storms of life, Jesus calls out to us, affirming us of who he is, and tells us to not fear. Peter needed some assurance, so Jesus called him to join him on the water. Walking on the water. What seems like an impossibility, is easy for Jesus. Come, said Jesus and Peter went. Eyes fixed on his Saviour, Peter walked with deep courage towards Jesus on the water.

With deep courage in who Jesus was in the midst of the waves in the storm, Peter was able to walk on the water. In the chaos of my life and circumstances, I can walk with deep courage towards Jesus with confidence in who he is and that he’s calling me.

When I enter that ballet studio, I know that even though my fears and insecurities are there – they aren’t controlling me. I’m grounded with my eyes fixed on Jesus. I can walk on the water because my faith is keeping me up. I don’t need to succumb to the lies that I’m too much or not enough. I simply walk on, knowing that my identity and value is more than how big my thighs are, or in how small my waist is.

Deep courage is possible for you too.

We discover deep courage to carry on when we’re secure in who Jesus is and his presence in our chaos. As soon as Peter doubted Jesus on the water he began to sink. But Jesus was there to catch him. When we doubt Jesus in our lives, we too start to sink in the fear and lies in our own minds. And too, Jesus is there to catch us again. All we need to do is call out, “Lord, save me.”

So today, fix your eyes on Jesus. See how he is a rock in your waves. Stable. Unchanging. Secure. We can depend on him when all else fails – because he cannot even fail himself. And when you stumble and start to fall again, just call out to him. He’ll always be there to catch you.

Erinblack