It Takes a Village

My last blog was about my parents, who are the most legit people I know. They raised me in southcentral Alaska, which I am very grateful for because of the culture there.
Growing up in Alaska lends itself to being raised by a village. Not in the sense that we are all “eskimos” in a village (I know that’s what you were thinking), but that the culture creates pockets of people who do life together very closely. Through this, while I was provided for lovingly and sufficiently from my parents, I’ve had many men and women who have invested into my life as second parents. I’m not so sure that this culture is represented as greatly in the contiguous United States.

My second parents have intentionally and sometimes unintentionally helped mold me into who I am. I love them very much and I wish I could name them all, but it’s probable that I am going to miss somebody because I have been that blessed.

My first second family that I can remember being really involved with where the Walkers. Kevin and Carmen helped raise me when I was younger. In fact, my mom says that she left me with Carmen when my parents had to go on an out of state trip when I was so young that when my parents came back I had forgotten who they were. I spent many days playing with the Walker children, knowing what “double-dog woopings” were, making blanket forts, playing dress up, fishing, etc. Being a part of other families through friends such as the Hansens, St. Clairs, Thorntons, and Hibberds shaped my childhood and consequently, me.

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Diana Thornton and myself, summer 2012

As I got a little older I got to know women like Carmen Franchino, Jeannie McNutt and Diana Thornton. These women mentored me, discipled me, listened to my high school drama, met with me, listened to me some more, let me sleep over, fed me, consoled me, and advised me.

In college, post college, and now I get to know great men like Dan O’Deens, Scott Feather, and Dr. Mark Soto, who helped/help shape my aspirations, own my faith, invest in other people, question my purpose and sanctify my ideas.

I’ve been blessed to be poured into post college by Ann Goebel and Bobbie Mohler and have come to know another beautiful second mom in Darla France.

All this to say, it’s getting to be that time when my friends are having babies. (Are we really old enough for that?!? 🙂 ) I live life pretty closely with people and for that I am greatly blessed. But now that babies are coming along, it’s time to step up. They will need second moms and dads to invest in them just like I was invested into. I’m grateful for the village I was raised in and am excited to be a part of the one to come.

A Legacy of Parenting

This past weekend I was a small group leader at a conference in which I paid first hand witness to the affects of parenting. The attendees at this conference were all collegiate aged and as they told stories about how their lives have been shaped, everyone of them (most unknowingly) made big statements about how their parents molded their future.

Some talked about abuse, emotional and physical, others about instability, distance, and absence. Later in the weekend I learned more about gender neutral terms and was given the example that a dad would say that his daughter was beautiful and his son very intelligent. As if he expected his daughter to live up to a cultural standard of being beautiful and nothing else. This was very odd for me to think about because my parents always just call me their favorite third child, sweetheart or chickadee.

Since returning home I’ve thought a lot about my childhood and how I was parented. It truly has shaped me into who I am today. I know that is true for everybody, but I can, with confidence say that my parent’s crafted me into who I am because they are awesome parents. (I wish I could say this has made me an awesome daughter, but unfortunately I don’t always live up to that.) I also know that my parents parented the way they did because of how they were parented – learning from some things that their parents did good and bad. So know this, even if you were parented with instability, loss, or abuse you can stop that cycle for your kids.

cardThis is my 21st birthday card. My parents sent it to me when I lived in Alaska for the summer with family friends. The bottom words are cut off from scanning it, it says, I will miss you! This card is one of my most treasured possessions. It was given to me during very transformative  years of my relationship with Christ and unknowingly to my mom and dad it had, and still has, a lot of impact on me because of the second line. “I pray that your 21st year is not only a blessing to you, but a blessing to many others.” And there in lies the most important underlying reason why my parents are straight legit. They mission-ally think about other people. I am so blessed to be raised by this couple who have this mindset and worked hard to pass it along to me.

Mom & Dad with my nephew, Andrew.

Mom & Dad with my nephew, Andrew.

My parents did not shelter me, but they truly supported me. I am only 26. Hard, unstable times are probably on their way, but I think I’ve been crafted to ride the waves well because of my parents. They taught me to survive on my own, to respect others, to give freely, to expect respect, to rise to the occasion, to lend a helping hand, to know that they will be there for me, and to love intensely among many other things.

Tim and Martha Cooper are very generous people and I’m praying that some day I will live up to their legacy in how I interact with others, especially if I should ever have children. Mom and dad, I cannot say thank you enough for my childhood and how you continue to support me, love me, advise me, mold me, teach me, and most importantly, point me towards the cross. I feel that I can speak for my siblings and all your “second” children, we love you very much!

ps. I’m sorry for probably embarrassing you with this post. I know you don’t usually seek the spotlight.

A Journey From There to Here

In the last two years I’ve lost 95 pounds… It’s honestly hard for me to believe. It’s harder for me to believe that I would actually write a blog post about this since I tend to be a pretty private person. However, today I decided to do just that because I’m (1) soon approaching the time that will make it two years since I changed my lifestyle and (2) because I feel encouraged when I read other peoples’ stories, so I’m going to tell you mine in the hopes that you’ll be encouraged too.

beforeafterHere is a before and after photo of me from the summer after I graduated college (2009) to just about a month ago (2013). *Thank you Arley Binsack for taking these 2013 photos of me!

I thought I’d share some insight into the last two years and what seemed to have worked or not worked for me. I say “worked” loosely though, because that word seems closely tied to a “plan, diet, miracle pill, etc” and that’s not really what I did. I sincerely decided to change my lifestyle. Please note that as you read the below list, I am in NO WAY trained in fitness or health and cannot offer you advice beyond my own experience. Please also note that “changing your lifestyle” is a daily decision that does get easier but never comes naturally, speaking as somebody who has low will power and knows that the allure of ice cream still has some magical power over me.

1. Do it for Yourself: You cannot decide to change your lifestyle to meet anybody’s expectations beyond your own. If you feel that changing the way you look, act, or eat will win you anything outside of your own joy of feeling and looking different, you will be disappointed. Nobody can or will motivate you into a long term change than you definitively deciding on your own to do it.4043

2. Don’t Go it Alone: When I first started to exercise and eat differently Corri (at the time, France) Gutwein also decided to go this path. It tremendously and I mean TREMENDOUSLY helps to have somebody who is planning to meet you at the gym/rec and who eats similarly with you. First things first – establish a goal setting partner.

3. Get it Out of your House: You will notice over time that you only eat certain things and only buy certain things and when you only stock your house with foods that are healthy, you won’t be tempted to eat junk food as much, simply because it’s not accessible. Yes, you’ll probably still want to run out for some ice cream, but since it’s not easily right there for you to indulge, you are way less likely to. This is probably a lot easier for me because, being single, I normally don’t cook for anybody else.

4. Eating Right vs. Exercising: I read in the last few months that eating right is 80% of loosing weight and exercising is 20%. I can probably attest to this. If you choose to indulge on some things but still exercise, you can maintain, but probably not loose.

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Our First 5K

5. Cold Turkey: When I first changed my lifestyle I basically went cold turkey from carbs, high calorie items, and sugar. I think this was necessary to completely wipe my system and start over. Now I’ve incorporated some of these things back into my lifestyle (sometimes too much!) but I still will not buy sweets, bread, red meat, french fries, or most fast food. I don’t really have a desire to have it. Once you’ve eaten clean for a long time, certain things don’t appeal to you and when you do eat them (like a chili cheese burrito from Taco Bell) it may feel like your insides are being ripped out. I eat chicken like my life depends on it.

6. How to Start Exercising: Our culture has certainly emphasized health and running recently with the popularity of 5k’s, marathons, Tough Mudder, Warrior Dash, Color Runs, etc. When people start running for the first time they often feel like they need to get on a treadmill and run 3 miles. Really? You’re going to go from 0 to 3 miles running? Please believe that NOBODY hops on a treadmill for the first week (with the hopes of loosing weight) and comes away thinking that they love to run. It just doesn’t happen. That’s why you have to start off a little slower than you’d like. Being a task-oriented person, I told myself that I would run XX number of minutes (and I started off slow.. I mean SLOOOOOW). Then I added a minute or two each time I ran to keep increasing my time overall. As I became more fit I could increase my speed too. Corri and I ran our first 5K outside together months after I started running. If you start running and realize that you hate it – keep running. It will get better after you feel more comfortable with your body and after your heart becomes more fit.3936

7. How to Go Long Term: Long term means the rest of my life. It is easy to get discouraged if you don’t loose that 10 lbs a week, but it really is true that loosing a couple pounds a week over a greater amount of time will set you up for long term success. Long term also means changing your life style, not just being on a diet.

8. Know Yourself: There will never be a day that I will wear size 2 pants. Not going to happen. I’m 5 foot 8 and very strong. If you see my parents and their siblings, you will understand that I was not made to be tiny. At some point you will have to become ok knowing that you will never be like a Victoria Secret model. But you can accomplish your goals, be a healthy person, and feel comfortable and confident in your own skin.

You will also find that your body reacts differently to food and exercise than other people. My genes make it so I can gain weight like it is my job. My metabolism runs right above 0, if that’s possible. When I eat specific foods I know that they will effect me differently. Know how you will process foods and know what works for you. Also know that even if you have friends that metabolism food like nobody’s business so they can’t gain weight to save their lives, it does not mean that their insides are healthy.

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Michigan Marathon

9. Look Back: Even as I write this and look at photos I find myself challenged to continue on for the long haul. It’s good to remember where you’ve come from and see photos of yourself when you were not comfortable with being you to remind you why you should put down that cupcake.

10. Never Find Your Self Worth in Your Size: There will never be a time when you are so happy with the way you look that you will not find anything to change. It seems that as soon as you feel good, you find something or somewhere else that you wish would be a little smaller, flatter, or stronger. This is why you can NEVER find your self worth in your self image. Only Jesus can be all sufficient to find our sense of worth in. Only He can satisfy our longings, desires, esteem, and image. You will always fluctuate, He will not.

I hope this list helps you along the way or maybe even to say, right now is when I am going to change. If you wait until tomorrow, you will always be waiting until tomorrow.

Love, Erin

Momentum 2013 Thoughts

It’s hard to believe that Momentum 2013 has already come and gone. It was a great week that went by super fast and I am very thankful for a lot of great people that made the week possible. Of course, there were a lot of highlights from the week for me, but I thought I’d mention a few of them here in random order as things that I am greatly pumped about and people that went above and beyond.

My mama: Ok, it’s not random that I would highlight her first. My mom came to Winona Lake a week early to help with projects that can only be done just prior to conference starting.Image We carried 4 cargo carts (not the regular little kind) of food out of Sam’s club on two different trips, went to Walmart multiple times, got 20 #10 cans of pudding, worked 64 hours in one week, and drove to Indy to go skydiving. She also put in TONS of hours sewing high quality fruit costumes for staff meetings. She did all this and put up with my tired, stressed, bad attitude.. basically she is a warrior!

Wham City Lights: So fun! We did two different light show for the first and last sessions. Even though the first one was pretty epic, the last one was pretty awesome. Here’s a video of the show from our closing session. Wham City Lights And a version one of our students recorded, Wham City Lights 2, which is a little more exciting because you can hear their reactions.

Staff: Our volunteer staff goes WAY above and beyond to make Momentum 2013 happen. This year was exceptionally smooth for me because it was the first year I didn’t feel like I needed to be multiple places at once. The places that I usually over-manage I delegated a lot more. It is always better to hand things off to people who care deeply and have great skill to manage on their own. Delegation – it’s a beautiful thing!

Youth Pastors: Sometimes I talk about how funny youth pastors are. There is always a solid bunch of them that don’t check their email, don’t turn their money in on time, forget to sign up their students, and always ask questions they should probably know the answer to. But really, they do these things because they are more busy lending themselves to their students and trying to put their heads around where God is leading their groups. It is amazing to me what teens face now – more so than when I was in high school. I love youth pastors and am very grateful that they’ve given themselves to helping their youth wade through the most foundationally determining time of their lives.

Family: Momentum 2013 was my 4th conference on staff. Every year I grow more attached to the people who pour themselves out for this conference. Momentum always feels like a sort of reunion when people come from across the country and get to experience something BIG with each other. It’s hard to leave them after the week is over because of our shared experience: seeing life change in teens.

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Speakers: As usual, our speakers were legit. Students responded in great ways to messages that were surely the Spirit speaking through men. It is so cool to see what happens with anointed men open the Word and let God speak through them.

Next Year: Next year we are headed to Wheaton College, July 22-27 which is right outside of Chicago! Oh the possibilities that await us in outreach and adventure!

#dreamteam: The dream team (you know who you are) had a lot of fun together during the week. People on the dream team were on staff or invested in Momentum before I got here and I am really thankful that they intentionally invested in me when I came on staff. I am grateful to call them friends!

Worship: Having Jeremy Byng was excellent. He is great to work with and really great at leading in selecting songs that accompany each speaker. Worshiping with Steve Fee was a very cool experience after he shared his testimony about redemption and restoration.

There really is SO much more I could keep on listing so I’m going to shotgun fire some other people and things without further explanation only because this is my blog and I can do that. Some other standout things: The prayer experience, Mark Artrip’s abilities to plan a session, Mark and Dave Show returning, the hospitality team, having Andy Mineo in concert, the staff at IWU, the campus of IWU, the MOMENTUM letters from Art, the I AM SECOND in the window, the late night golf cart security rides, shirtless boys playing Hantis at 2:00 a.m., the Serafinos and their mad skills at YDYW, the Momentum Fest and Momentum Dash, Sean McDowell’s talk on the effects of pornography, digital conference cards, PayPro Media, the Feathers being back, Courtney as a roommate, meeting outside of 528, Carly and Ashton on bikes behind the golfcart, Dayne spinning presession, Brad Deetscreek being the most hilarious person I know, having the privileged to know Jeff Bogue, having Dave Rank as a boss, my sister running hospitality like a boss, new friends, and the list goes on and on…

What a great week – Some would say the best week of the summer! 😉

Erin

Adventure Year Camping

20130627-092621.jpgAdventure Year 2013 – Camping in June

Well, another month has come and gone and I’m excited to say that we went on our scheduled adventure – Camping at Chain O’ Lakes. We had a very fun time, albeit some unexpected and slightly scary moments.20130627-092627.jpg

It always seems like we pack WAY to much to be roughing it in the primitive section of Chain O’ Lakes which happens to be only about 30 minutes from home. But of course, we need all the essentials 🙂 For the second year we stuffed the futon mattresses in which Arley, Danielle, and I ended up sharing – pretty cozy.

I had brought three tents – all of which seem to be missing a portion or part, so I think we ended up being able to use one. Friends that were able to embark on this 20130627-092632.jpgadventure were Danielle, Corri and Brad, Tim Price, Zac, Arley, Seth and Amy, and myself with a bonus visit from Scotty on Saturday.

We spent the day playing cards and games, eating food, making fires, swimming, 20130627-092641.jpg“hiking”, riding bikes, eating more food, cutting watermelons, roasting marshmellows and having a jolly good time.

20130627-092652.jpgUnfortunately we had a scare on Saturday morning when Amy was not feeling too well and which ended in a quick trip to the hospital. I say unfortunately because the Pixtons had to go home after that and we missed them a lot!!

On Saturday evening we convinced everybody to go on a “hike” for a couple miles. I feel like I should put hike in ” ” because let’s20130627-092710.jpg not get too crazy… we were walking paths around the campground, not climbing mountains, looking out for bears. Either way, it was a lot of fun – especially when we stumbled upon a hidden field and playground.

Of course the childlike wonderment and awe came out of all of us when we saw the wooden playground set complete with tire swing and slides. A couple underdogs and Corri and Brad trying to ride a swing facing each other later we had our fill of laughter.

We spent a lot of time telling stories, staying up late (well, late for us old people now), revisiting old memories and just enjoying each others company.

I’d say this adventure was a fun-filled success!

Until next month,
Erin

Until

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MND Update. 06.08.13

Well, it’s been since May 5, my birthday, that I’ve updated my blog. Being that we are swiftly headed into June, I’m approaching the time of summer when 5:00 is just a number, not an ending time and weekends mean extra days to get things done at work.

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I’m not complaining, I love my job, I’m just saying that may be the reason why my blog has been recently neglected. I’ve also been to Florida recently with my family and have experienced some health changes – but all is well :).

If the unkept blog is in the name of one of the BEST Momentum’s ever, I’m sure people won’t mind, right?? 🙂

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Here are a few pictures from the last month of MNDs. A Lot has happened – sorry I didn’t take more photos :(.

Since May 5 Brad has gotten out his grill – yay- and we’ve tasted some delicious dishes.

Danielle, Zac, and I have started a movie watching club of 3 the last couple weeks and decided we needed to have these matching Team Rod shirts after first watching one of Zac’s favorite movies, Hot Rod. Now we are committed to the Harry Potter series since neither Danielle or Zac have seen them. I am introducing them to this magical culture though, don’t worry! 🙂

Seth got a cornhole a few weeks ago (all 4 bean bags in the hole) which is a very exciting moment at MND so he got to sign the cornhole board.
20130608-140924.jpgI’ve also included this picture of a tiny carrot because it is the first harvest of my window garden. Pretty pathetic carrot, but it was grown with others in a Mason Jar, so give it some credit. I pulled it because I could see a touch of orange above the soil, but I left the others in the jar to get monsterous :).

Until next time!

Erin

26 Years, 26 Blessings

Today I turn 26. Getting older is a weird feeling and every year that passes past college feels weird. But strangely, I don’t really feel “old,” I feel full. I’ve been very blessed to live a very full life for the first 26 years. So, in celebration of that, I wanted to share 26 ways that I’ve been very blessed.

1. A relationship with the Lord.

I grew up blessed to have been pointed toward God at an early age. My relationship with the Lord has greatly grown in the past 5 years and I’ve been very blessed to be called into His own. My soul has found its worth in knowing that nothing I do can be good enough to earn my way to heaven, but God’s wrath for me and my sin has been propitiated by Christ’s death on the cross. Because of this reality, He offers me life eternally with Him and life abundant on earth now. This is my greatest joy.

2 & 3. My Mom and Dad

It is such an understatement to say that I’m blessed to have the parents that I have. They have loved me well by providing for me physically, emotionally and laying a foundation for me spiritually. My parents take the time to teach me which has prepared me to be able to stand on my own. A paragraph would never be enough words to explain the depth of my love and thankfulness for them.

4 & 5. My Siblings

I grew up with 2 older siblings, Laura and Adam. There’s been some rocky times through our childhood but as we’ve grown and matured being adults together has been so fantastic! For how different Laura and I were growing up, we are pretty much twin-minded now and I love spending time with her. Adam has crazy powers of persuasion and is so funny. To be the little sister of these two has made for some very sweet memories. To have added Zach and AnnDee to our sibling group in the last few years has also been wonderful and have you seen my niece and nephew? – probably the cutest and most clever kids you’ll meet!

6. My Second Families

Anybody who really knows me knows that I take a lot of joy to have been raised by a “village.”

Being A Part of the McNutt Family

Through my childhood and even now as a 26 year old I’ve been greatly blessed to have second parents who have invested greatly into me and second siblings who I have trouble finding memories that they are not a part of. I wish that I could name these people individually and give them each a paragraph because to think about the depth of their investment in me is humbling. To each of you, you know who you are. 🙂

7. Working in Ministry

I’ve been working at CE National since I graduated from Grace College which means this summer will be my fourth Momentum. To see the ways God has moved in the lives of students and to work with people who also love the Lord has been amazing.

8. Working With CPR-3

I’ve been working with CPR-3 as their graphic designer since 2010. Through this I’ve known a great mentor and friend, been able to spend time in and fall in love with Haiti, and have become a part of the CPR-3 family. This has been an honor.

My Favorite Place in the World9. Growing up in Alaska

I grew up in the Last Frontier. I greatly value a childhood full of hiking, camping, exploring, fishing, the most beautiful landscape, community, snowmachining, and so much more.

10. Living in Lake City (Winona Lake)

I’ve stayed in Winona Lake after having graduated college in this city four years ago. It’s a great place to live, especially in the summer since the Frances’ graciously let us spend so much time on their boat, whipping across the lake on a tube. It’s the time of our lives.

11. Monday Night DinnerFriends at Monday Night Dinner

4 years of spending Monday Nights with people I love and who love me well, building a strong community and eating good food. Enough said.

12-20. My Community

Is it cheating to use this many numbers for one item? Maybe, but I was going to write about a few people individually and thought it better to just elaborate on them as a group. I was very blessed to make friends in Winona after graduation, considering most all of my college friends left the area. 😦 Loyalty and really deep community is really important to me so it has been beyond what I can describe to “do life” so intensely with this group.

My BFF CorriI also realized last night that it’s been 13 years since I met Stephanie McNutt Pahl. We’ve gone through middle school, high school, college and the four years after college together.  How many relationships do you know that have lasted that long?!?

My friends challenge and sharpen me spiritually, make me laugh, ground me, put up with my shenanigans, offer me grace when needed (lots), and are on board for adventure, and I could not be more thankful for them.

21. My Time in College

I went to a small christian college and it was the time of my life. I was blessed to be a part Sarah, Elise, Emily, and Joy Senior Yearof a very close knit group of friends who I loved doing life with. It was hard to see them leave the area after graduation and I wish I could see them more often, but I don’t take lightly the 4 years we got to spend together at Grace. I was blessed to go to Grace  because my time there was maturing and lent itself to when my relationship with God grew most prominently through classes and professors who built into me.

22. My Health

I’ve always been blessed to be a pretty healthy person, meaning I don’t get sick very easily, but the last couple years I’ve been blessed to become a much healthier person!

23. Travels

It has been a blessing to be able to travel to Haiti, Mexico in multiple places, and spend time with my family and friends on great vacations and missions trips in these places and more.

Bethany and Heather on Heather's Birthday24. Bethany and Heather

This past year I’ve been mentoring two Grace College students, Bethany and Heather. My relationships with them have sharpened me and pushed me further to grow closer to Christ. I’ve loved sharing my life with them and pointing each other towards the Gospel.

25. My Church

I’ve been attending Christ’s Covenant Church for the last couple years and have come to know that the teaching there is excellent and the community is solid. What a joy to be a part of this body.

26. My Future

Because I know that God holds me in His hands, I can be thankful to know that He plans my days ahead of me. I’m looking forward to the next 26 years. 🙂