Where Does Comfort Come From?

comfortLately, I’ve been thinking a bit about what I naturally turn to for comfort. The first few things that flew to mind were:

  • Tea
  • Books
  • Keegan
  • Hugs
  • Friends

As I sat there thinking about the security those things bring, I wondered why—even when I try to fill my days with things that ‘comfort’ me—I still have such a need for it!

I find I usually need comfort in times of exhaustion, disappointment, frustration, and anxiety. As I was talking with my brother on the phone the other day, something he said stuck with me: “I don’t need surety, I need to trust.”

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Trusting God fully is difficult for me. I may have mentioned that before. (Like here.) I like to see situations under control—whether by me, or others. When I relinquish the reigns of my life to God, I struggle because I can’t always see what he’s doing. Of course I know he will never neglect to take care of me, but living out that knowledge with faith and trust is another story for this anxious girl!

I’ve been realizing more and more lately that the things I turn to for comfort are all good, but they ultimately fall short of healing my wounds.

In fact, there is only one who can truly comfort me. God longs to re-mold my heart to heal the wounds and fill the holes with Him!

But He is waiting for me to trust Him. To stop floundering through my life trying to heal my intangible hurts with tangible means.

Day by day, I’m learning to let God lead me. I’m learning to trust Him. I’m learning that my first steps toward true comfort should be to look to the one who can heal my deepest wounds once and for all.

So today, I’m choosing to draw my comfort from my trust and faith in God, rather than from earthly means.

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P.s. Thanks to Pen and Peplum‘s #52handlettered Instagram challenge for getting me started thinking about this topic! 

The Impact of Hello

Sometimes you never know the impact you have on someone. Other times, they’re brave enough to tell you.

This story came to mind again recently, and I thought I would share it. Many years ago, when I was starting high school, my friend’s younger brother was pretty obnoxious. Let’s be honest: a lot of boys are, as they enter their teens. He was loud, rowdy, and his sense of humor didn’t mesh well with the general public. Endless energy wrapped up in oversized t-shirts and braces. Pretty typical.

One day, I decided that I was going to be nice to him. It was just a challenge for myself, honestly. It was self-righteous.  I did think everyone deserved the benefit of the doubt, but I was focused on being a “nice person”. A “good Christian”. I didn’t set any high expectations, just to say hello, and smile. Not to roll my eyes when he acted up. Actually listen when he talked.

After a few months, I began to find myself enjoying the time I spent with him. We had real conversations, and I began thinking of him as the little brother I never had.

Still obnoxious, but in a familiar, special way.

One day, out of the blue, he asked me: “Why do you talk to me?” It caught me completely off guard. I never considered talking to him to be something unusual. When I asked him what he meant, he explained.

“The rest of [my sister]’s friends just ignore me or make fun of me.”

Ouch.

Yes, I’d initially decided to be nice to him for my sake, not his. But the friendship had eclipsed that decision long ago. I now talked to him because I enjoyed it! I asked how he was doing and I really listened. I cared when he told me who he liked, his plans for the weekend, or what he wanted to do in life.

I hadn’t realized that reaching out to him would affect him in a way he would recognize. I hadn’t thought that God would use my self-righteously-motivated action for real life change. I didn’t think I had anything to offer. Just a hello.

Sometimes, that’s all it takes.

How often are we annoyed by people who aren’t exactly “our type”? We ignore them, and choose to see only what we want to. No gifts, just gripes. We refuse to look deep enough to see the beauty with which God has steeped their soul.

If I asked for a show of hands of people guilty of this, I’d have to raise mine too. I have shut people out of my life, and swept past some that needed my love, compassion, or friendship. I regret each and every one of those times. I will never know the effect I could have had on their lives, or what their friendship could have taught me.

Today, I want to challenge all of us to take off our blinders and find out who needs us to reach out to them. To see them. To simply say hello.

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Ray and Piper [Anniversary]

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I first met Ray and Piper when I was about 13. Piper was my small group leader in youth group, and a friend of my parents. She was far outside my comfort zone, and nothing like me—eccentric, wild, effervescent—yet I adored and looked up to her, because she was also wise, caring, and genuine. She always found a way to make the craziest of conversations apply to day-to-day struggles. The adolescent problems of three teenage girls were never too small for her to truly care about. She had a special place in each of our hearts.

Through the years, she has passed from being my small group leader to being my friend.

Ray also volunteered in the youth group, and though admittedly, I didn’t get to know him as closely, I always respected him and enjoyed his sense of humor. He also has become a friend.

They are both people I look to for examples of faith, marriage, and joy.

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A few months ago, Ray approached me about doing a surprise photo session for their 10th anniversary. We picked a date in mid-December, planned for the afternoon, and waited in anticipation.

To our delight, the surprise went perfectly!

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I spent a lovely afternoon with Ray and Piper in downtown Holland. It was cold, foggy, but lots of fun. We traded stories, shared laughs, and ate a delicious dinner together.

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Ray and Piper, thank you for your friendship through the years. Thank you for everything you have taught me, and the impact you’ve had on my life. I really look up to both of you! I also look forward to many more years of shared stories, laughter, and wisdom. Happy Anniversary!

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With love,

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Be Still

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Psalm 46:10 says: “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It is a commonly quoted verse, and one I’ve found peace in many times.

Be still, and know that I am God.

That phrase is typically the part that I focus on. Be still, Erika. Who better to plan your life than the author of history? Who knows you more intimately than your creator? Who cares more deeply for you than the one who sent His perfect Son to die for you? Yes, be still.

Exodus 14:14: “The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.”

Again, the concept of stillness. Sometimes, stillness is hard. I am an especially anxious person, as I’m sure many of you know. I worry, I overthink, I over-prepare.

I’m the girl spends hours worrying about things I can’t control, but God says be still.

He says He will fight for me. He is sovereign.

I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.

He fights for me, yes. He delivers me, yes. He gives me peace and stillness… yes. But His purpose is clear.

My stillness in turbulent times is never a tribute to my own strength or presence of mind. It’s not a giant neon sign pointing at me, boasting “This Girl Has It Together.” (Wouldn’t that be nice if it were true!)

No. It is meant to glorify Him.

My stillness must be characterized by trust and humility. Reaching out and taking hold of God’s promise of rest, peace, and guidance is only the first step.

To live a life of stillness, I must keep walking with Him, relying on Him, and glorifying Him.

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Christmas Time

It’s been a busy couple weeks around the Wells house! As we’ve never been on top of things enough to send out a Christmas card, I suppose this will have to do.

The week before Christmas, we picked up my brother from the airport, to much rejoicing. I haven’t seen him since June, and my parents last saw him last in August. That’s definitely a record, for this close-knit family! It was so encouraging to see him laughing again, recounting stories of his classes and friends.

Our traditional Christmas tree cutting day was saved until AJ came home, and we were joined this year by his girlfriend Lauren, and my boyfriend Keegan. It was rainy, cold, and dreary outside, but we had fun! We took a few pictures, laughed a lot, and selected this year’s “perfect tree” at a new tree farm.

No Charlie Brown trees for us this year!

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The rest of the day was filled with Christmas lights, hot chocolate, decorating, pine needle puncture wounds, pizza, and good conversation.

As usual, Christmas was a sweet time for our family to be together.

My parents are a never ending source of wisdom and encouragement. They have both spoken a lot of truth into my life recently, and I couldn’t be more thankful! Each of them have busy schedules, but they always take time to listen when I want to talk. Dad is still playing soccer, Mom is well on her way to becoming a master gardener, and they are both giving of their time and energy at church, as always.

My grandparents have struggled a little with their health this year, but thankfully they’re still up and about; playing cards, docent-ing at the Holland Museum, going to art class, and fueling our family’s conversations and faith.

My brother enlisted in the United States Marine Corps in March, and after many grueling months of boot camp and combat training, he is now on a base in California, receiving training for a position in Intelligence.

It was wonderful to be reunited again.

Over the holiday break, we’ve had visits from many friends, both old and new. Traditional dinners, and new escapades. Exploring, reminiscing, and enjoying each others presence. Recounting stories, and anticipating upcoming adventures.

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We have another few days full of friends, family, and New Years plans before we have to begin the goodbyes, and our return to a normal schedule.

Merry Christmas to one and all. May the peace and joy of Christ be with you.

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P.S. The top two photos are many thanks to Lauren. Go check out her awesome blog!