Monday, June 17, 2013

Name Change

I changed the name of my blog today.  I believe in the last few years, I have been too cynical and negative. An earful from Erin is certainly what many people get from me, but  it comes across negative. I believe I am more than an "earful".  Now, my brother in law may disagree.  =-)

I have struggled with what roles are most important important in my life. I had a student in a study hall that I taught a few years ago give me the nickname "mama millz" I liked it. It stuck with me. It is truly who I am. I am a mom at heart. I am not always the best mom. I have a lot to learn and room to grow, but being a mom is definitely my most important role.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Inherited Good or Evil?

Today I had the privilege of taking my youngest daughter with me to chauffeur her brother around for the day. I was blessed with her ability to communicate so well even at a young age. Her comments and laughter brightened my day.  I liked watching her little legs run and hop around when waiting for her  big brother to finish drum lessons. At the same time, I noticed her stubborn behavior, her fear of strangers and the unknown, and her loud barks of anger when she didn't get her way. My family might laugh as they recall my anger when I threw my golf club at mini golf because I didn't get my way.

Yesterday I had the joy of dating my son.  He was a gentlemen- he held doors, took the cart back, carried bags. I was delighted with his enthusiasm and willingness to lend a helping hand to those in need. At the same time I noticed how sometimes he whined too much or manipulated a situation to try and get something in his favor. My family might laugh at this too as they recall my many days of whining and manipulating.

Two days ago I was picking up my daughter from Summer Care. She had been having a wonderful time. After working all day, I couldn't wait to see her bright blue eyes, beautiful smile, and hear her laughter. At the same time, I noticed her being very independent and not accepting help from anyone else. I noticed her trying to do everything on her own with her own willpower. She had to grab all of her bags herself. Again, my family would laugh because we have a family joke of me always carrying all of the bags myself and never letting anyone help.

During this last moment when at school, I commented to a fellow teacher how my daughter was just so independent. In his good-natured way, he smiled warmly and said, "isn't it neat to see how our children inherit some of our great characteristics?"

And, I replied, "yes, but sadly all too often, I see them mimicking my sinful nature." I didn't necessarily see the independence as a good characteristic. I saw the potential for self-reliance rather than reliance on God...for control rather than giving control to God in faith.

You see, I am very grateful for the good I see in my children, and the beauty they exhibit. They bring me so much joy.  Yet, I am saddened by the fact that my own sins, my own struggles so easily become their sin and their struggles. I want to keep them from these sins. I believe it is important that I encourage the good behaviors and work diligently to gently remind them of the habits they need to improve. At the same time, I need to be working on my own attitude and my own habits to set an example for these children I so adore. I think it is easy for me to discipline my children (always wanting them to be perfect), but I don't always remember my own self-discipline. The truth is they learn more from my actions than from what I say. The fact that I see them acting out at times with all too familiar poor behaviors probably means they have recently seen me respond in a similar manner. Even scripture supports that we often inherit the sins of our fathers (Exodus 20:5, Deuteronomy 5:9).  Maybe in order to break from some of those sins, I should spend more time focusing on my own actions both in the home and with other people in public.

In light of all of this, I may need to lighten up a little on expecting these little ones to be perfect all of the time and recognize that God has given them many of our great qualities too. I need to be sure I am commending and praising their good works. That I am encouraging them to use their characteristics in ways that will serve others and bring joy to life. Who knows what incredible opportunities the praise will evoke?

Sunday, July 24, 2011

An encounter with Moses

This week I have been reading in Exodus.  When I think of Moses, I remember the many Bible stories taught to me in Sunday School as a child at Covenant Baptist Church in Columbia, MD. I remember the burning bush, the plagues, the red sea, and of course the Ten Commandments.  What intrigued me most though during my recent reading of scripture was something that I don't really remember being taught (the concept may have been taught but maybe not the story).  A section of the story that is not as well-known or broadcasted (maybe others noticed it- but I just don't remember it).

It is in Exodus 5- where Moses and Aaron go and do what God asked them to do -speaking with Pharaoh- asking for the Hebrews to be allowed to go into the wilderness to worship God. Moses and Aaron obeyed God's commands.  Then the story starts to turn and after Pharaoh denies their request he increases the workload on the Israelites and many Isrealites were beaten.  The very same Hebrews whom Moses and Aaron came to protect began to hurl insults at them and ask God to judge Moses and Aaron.  At this point in the story, the heroes don't seem very mighty.  They don't seem to be helping the Hebrews.

I can picture Moses and Aaron questioning why the Lord sent them to do this task and feeling very defeated.  In verse 22 Moses asks God why God ever sent him.  He questions what God is doing.  This just seems so relevant to many life experiences today.  There are many times where we feel called to do something for God and we do it and then we experience more trouble or hardship.

I believe this story needs to be told to more people.  We are going to face struggles in life where things just don't make sense or add up.  In this life, we may even question why God sent us to a certain place or called us to a certain task - a task that maybe included heartache or fellow believers who didn't support our decision. The one good thing is that later on or maybe even once we are in Heaven we will see the whole picture that God sees and understand why our story was written the way it was---but for right now we just have to trust. In chapter 6- God promises deliverance and begins with "now you shall see what I will do to Pharaoh...."  - did the deliverance come right away?  No, but it did come and many awesome miracles and lessons were granted to the Israelites.  Were Moses's decisions always supported- even by his fellow Hebrews?  Nope.  Moses couldn't rely on support from others.  As I heard in church today- his source of significance/worth could not come from his accomplishments or achievements but had to come from his relationship with God- his willingness to follow God with all of his heart no matter what happened.  As the pastor at the church I attended today (Hyland Heights Baptist) said, where is your source of strength- is it in what you do or what you accomplish or is it in Christ?  Is it in your circumstances or is it in the deep relationship you have with Jesus?

I know that for me, God even orchestrated the perfect time in my life to read about this scenario- He is sovereign and in control!  I love that God also used a sermon this morning to share the following verses which provide comfort and were words spoken to the Israelites. I love the first part of it ( which is also not as well-known as the last verse) Isaiah 40:27-31 "Why do you say, O Jacob, and speak, O Israel, "My way is hidden form the Lord, and my right is disregarded by my God"?  Have you not known?  Have you not Heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.  He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchableHe gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.  Even youths shall faint and be weary, and young men shall fall exhausted; but they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint."

May God grant you strength today to continue to pursue his call on your life!

Monday, May 30, 2011


I have been thinking about this blog for a few months.  I just haven't found the right words to describe how God has been leading our family.  I think I haven't posted about this yet because God was still dealing with my heart and showing me more about how He is in control.  This past Sunday God used Matt Cote at Brentwood Church to give me meaningful words to add to this blog.  It is amazing how God sends the right message at the right time!

"Followers of Jesus live with a greater sense of calling beyond comfort, convenience, and control"- these are the words that were posted on the big screen at church on Sunday.  They are so true!  I can think of many years of following Christ that have had me out of my comfort zone or out of control or lacking convenience to my life and this year is one of those years!

I have been in the education field for 10 years both teaching and working on administration as a curriculum coordinator.  God has blessed every year giving me positions only He could orchestrate, however, after giving birth to my precious third child, my husband and I began to notice that life was spinning out of control for me.  It was becoming more and more difficult for me to be a full time administrator at school as well as a full time mommy and wife at home.  Coming home stressed out from situations at work, I would find myself snapping at my children and putting undue stress on them.  I felt as though someone had switched me to fast forward mode.  They hit the fast forward button when I woke up at 4:30 and I was in this "quickly get things done" mode for the entire day until I went to bed late at night.  I couldn't really stop any of my tasks to socialize with my family. I was too busy checking things off of my list ("living in cruise control"- as Matt Cote says- just hoping everything fell into place). Some health issues even began to arise due to the stress. Sean and I both knew this was not how we wanted to live or how we wanted our children to see their mommy who loved them dearly. So we began thinking about our options.  

Staying home was really the only option to give me more time with my children which is what we felt God was calling us to do- but how would we support our family? We really need the health benefits and extra income that my position offers- how could we ever afford to purchase our own? Was it really wise to leave an administrative job that I had worked so hard to obtain and that presented me with freedoms that other positions lacked?  Would I lose the resume-building qualifications that I had earned? And of course, what would I do about the education of my children ( I can't afford to send them where they currently go).  All of this would present lack of convenience, comfort, and control.  

As God always does, He began to show us how He was in ultimate control. He gave me friends to offer wisdom and advice (most of whom said I would never regret my decision, and isn't this what I have been asking for the last ten years?). He provided me with a work at home online teaching position (quite quickly due to God's goodness) which moved me to resign from my school position.  God used work events and circumstances to confirm our decision yet also protect my confidence in myself (which was needed).  At this time, my incredible in-laws announced that they too were quitting their jobs and would begin to search for a home in our area- this would be a tremendous help because I would have help with the kids and be able to handle the part time work I needed to provide income for our immediate needs.  They were able to sell their home and purchase one near us in record time!  This definitely meant some inconvenience and lack of control for them too, but we seemed to all be in this position at the same time so we had mutual understanding of each other's needs and were able to help each other through our circumstances.  During this time, we were even offered some help with tuition for Nathan to go one more year to LCA.  God is so good to us!

Even with all of these blessings, I would be lying if I said I felt that everything was under control.  I am still worried about making ends meet, affording health insurance, affording schooling once Keilah is in school, how will I do teaching Keilah at home instead of sending her to pre-school, will I be able to handle all that being a stay at home mom while working from home entails? Will we still be able to buy gifts for our family? I can say that I do worry about all of this a bit, but I feel God's peace with my decision.   I feel peace because I can finally focus on the more important goals of raising my family, taking care of my household, being a wife that supports her husband's work, being more influential at camp (my husband's ministry), and serving at my church more often.  These things will still take work and will still have their stressful moments but since my focus will be on what God desires and wants for me, I know God will take care of our family. I don't expect it to be perfect. I realistically expect to still have struggles (also something Matt Cote pulled out of Philippians 1:29). No matter what we do, if we are following Christ, we will face struggles. I am just praying that now I will have more time to focus on those struggles with my family- having more time to raise them to learn how to deal with those struggles from a biblical perspective.

So after ten years in education, I am now turning off the "cruise control" and entering into a new season of my life. A new season of discomfort, inconvenience, and lack of control in my life.  I covet your prayers through this transition.


P.S.  I must comment about my students.  They will be the one thing I miss most about teaching. I hate to leave school because I will not see them as often.  I know we are supposed to influence them, but they have influenced me...leaving a very special place in my heart for them.  They were not the stressful part of my job.  I will miss all of them dearly!

P.P.S.- A shout out to all of my teacher friends at LCA too! I will miss them dearly too!  I can't thank them all enough for how much they have taught me over the years!

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Behind Closed Doors

"Erin, you are just not as perfect as I thought you were or as others think you are"- a quote from my college room mate- actually not sure those were the actual words but they are close.  This quote has branded into my brain. It is  a true statement and has brought wisdom to my life. My roomie was one of the best people God put into my life- an honest, loving, servant of God who strives to take care of people with sincerity and grace.  She impacted me more than she will ever know.

As I reflect on my week or even my life I see how this statement is a genuine picture of reality.  You see, I was trying my best to be "perfect".  Due to the fact that I made many wise choices in high school and said the right things, many parents and students thought me to be a "good kid".  And, I was a good kid - if you were looking at my choices and at my desire to live a Godly life and to spend time with God and to reach out to others.  Not all of this was negative.

But the truth is that behind closed doors, when those who lived with me could actually see the sinful side of me, they saw that sometimes my intent was not to please God but to please others or to be better than others.  What motivated me was not always a better relationship with God but a competitive desire to be better than others around make myself look better.  The kind words or "perfect" actions were many time just attempts to lift myself up - not always to glorify God.  This is sad, but it is true.  It is a reflection of the fact that we are all sinners. As a dear friend mentioned in a Bible study this week, we are all like "filthy rags and our sins sweep us away like the wind".

This year I have heard a lot of instruction from great leaders about the fact that other people's perception is what matters, that it is not about our "intent"- but I struggle with that. I think it is definitely about intent. If our intent is to promote ourselves or our own ideas/agenda, then we are just manipulating people. 

My son recently lost a tooth. He received two dollars (I know way more than we ever got when we were little) under his pillow.  When I woke up I couldn't wait to see his excitement- but instead he said to me, "mommy, we have sad news!  The tooth fairy gave me a yoda but I have already lost it!"  After much discussion we realized that he had hidden his two dollars and made up the yoda story in hopes that we would replace the "yoda" that the tooth fairy left- a large manipulation and lie.  This saddened me because I realized that my "sweet, sensitive, loving" child really still had sinful intent in his heart- he had spent some time thinking about that story and although it is very funny now, it is a powerful example of how our own desires can hurt other people and keep us from being thankful for the blessings God has already given to us.  It is an example of how we allow sin to manipulate our actions.  It gets in the way of our testimony of Christ.

I know that my roomie saw through my acts and her words drove me to analyze my "intent".  I still struggle with this. I know that the only way for me to overcome the sinful desires of my heart is to stay in the Word and to pursue more time with the Lord...this is difficult in my busy life. I see where because I am out of the Word, that I let my shields down and make many mistakes - saying things I should not say- doing things for the wrong "intent".  It is my prayer that God will work on the intent of my heart  and then once that is developed that people will "perceive" me as God wants me to be perceived - for His Glory- not mine!  For God sees not as man sees...He looks at the HEART!  I Samuel 16:7. 

I am curious and anxious to see what God can do through us if we care less about the perception of others and more about God's perception! 

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Truth or a Lie?

  Some of you may remember a recent post from my husband about my son and his eating habits.  Nathan was going to the bathroom quite often during dinner one night.  Sean asked me if I thought he was alright and I jokingly asked Nathan if he was throwing out his dinner in the bathroom.  He quickly said No and we all laughed at the absurdity of the question.  Within minutes our precious first born came to us broken with tears in his eyes wondering how much trouble he would get in if he told the truth- confessing that yes, he was flushing his food down the toilet.  Of course we had to deal with the root of the problem- the lying but we also tried not to laugh too loudly at the situation.

  This reminds me a bit of myself.  I have never been too great of a liar. I usually told on myself whenever I did something wrong.  Call it obsessive compulsive but I just couldn't deal with the guilt of lying. My husband would probably tell you that I over do it on telling the truth- there are some things we should just let go, but I just can't do that. I am honest to the point that sometimes it is detrimental.

  I am honest with people. I say whatever is true even when it should be sugar coated. I firmly believe that sometimes people just need to learn how to handle the truth.  That the truth will set them free to do the right thing.  

  Don't worry, I am not just that way with others, I am that way with myself.  I am constantly analyzing everything. I can be self deprecating and negative as I focus on what needs to change.  I guess I think that focusing honestly on my problems helps me stay humble and focus on my weaknesses rather than my strengths. I think it keeps me grounded and aware of the need for Christ.   While this is true, through my reading and talking to dear friends I find that there may be a flaw in my thinking.  

  Although, there is some truth to my thought process there is also truth that contemplating the negative can be destructive.  I love this excerpt from Candace Cameron Bure's new book Reshaping It All- (it is long but worth reading- Candace says it better than I can)
     " The simple fact is that if these negative, destructive thoughts are growing in your heart, you will be as you think.  If you let those thoughts remain in your heart and accept them to be true, they will eventually blossom and form who you are.  If you wake up in the morning only to look in the mirror with disgust, you have already started out on the wrong foot...Be content with the woman you are today and the woman you'll be tomorrow.  You don't have to look back; just keep looking forward.  maybe you failed before---so what?  Failure from the past is not a reason to give up today; in fact it's the very reason you should press on and make it work this time.  Change what you can.  You hold the God-given power to do that, and the great news is that He doesn't expect you to do it alone.  What is it about helium balloons that light up a room so elegantly? Or that make children squeal with delight? Are they not the same as the ones we blow up at the kitchen table and let drift to the floor?  No, they aren't.  Nothing says, "It's a party!" like a grand bouquet of pink and white helium balloons.  What makes them different is that one floats and the other sinks.  It's that simple.  What we put into them makes all the difference in the world. We're hardly different.  We are set apart from the crowd by the things we fill our minds with.  "Whatever is pure, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable---if anything is excellent or praiseworthy---think about such things" Phil. 4:8.  These messages help us rise above our strongholds.  These thoughts bring us closer to the person God created us to be."

  As I write this I remember my dear Mimi listening to me bang on the piano and sing at the top of my lungs old songs she kept at her piano bench- "God is my Soul" or "Oh Give Me a Soapbox".  Whenever I finished playing, I would ask her how I did? Did I sound good?  And she would always reply with a smile, "yes, hunny, it was great!"  Everyone else probably wondered why she said it was good. It certainly was painful to listen too.  But she encouraged me through a little lie.  That lie gave me confidence and gave me a love for music that I used as I played my flute from fourth grade through college ( and yes my family had to hear the painful notes I played before I learned to play well).  It inspired me to give music a try!  It is not really a lie but an encouragement to keep on - it was an attitude that left negative thoughts far away and brought about confidence.  Had Mimi said it was terrible and asked me to stop playing, I probably would have lost confidence and never loved music. I would have missed out!

  So those of you that know me are probably pleased to hear that I am going to work on not being so negative!  I will still hold to the fact that we should boast about our weaknesses and sometimes there is a place for complete honesty, however, our thoughts should be lovely and admirable, praiseworthy, and pure. I think I had the pure and right part, but I need to work on thinking more positively!  

It will be fun to see what we can accomplish if we rise above our strongholds and allow God to work in us!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Peace in the midst of Chaos

  Music is a huge part of the Mills family life.  We all like music. I can't say that we all love the same genre of music but we seem to all enjoy singing loudly in the car.  Sean used to put the song "Chaos"by Mute Math on in the car and I remember hearing Nathan singing it at the top of his lungs- "Chaos!, Chaos!"  Little did I know that I would relate very much to this song in the next couple of years.

  I have always wanted to be the best at everything and if I couldn't be the best at it, I wouldn't try to accomplish it. I have had some rare moments where I have tried things out of my comfort zone thanks to my husband, but most of the time I stick to things I know well.  Lately, it seems God is trying to teach me that there is not a single area of my life where I am in control- He is in complete control.  This is apparent as I sit here typing this blog.  All around me is Chaos.  There are boxes on my floor; trash and keys and jackets and a hair brush as well as enough crumbs to feed people for a week are on the couch I am sitting on; dishes, lunch boxes, baby bottles, and mail are on my kitchen counter; wall hangings that should be on the wall are looking pretty turned upside down or sideways on the floor in our "fish room"; laundry is strung by the stairs with care; and of course children's music is competing with the noise of video games.  Everything is a mess!

  At this moment, even my career seems to be in chaos.  A job I thought I knew so well is proving to send me in several different directions at one time.  I am even teaching a Business Math class- those of you who know me, know this is out of my comfort zone!  God seems to be leading me in unknown places these days.   There are many things happening that just don't make sense.

 It all points me back to the chaotic moment of my father's illness and death. Everything that happened just didn't make sense.  Dad was a man of God that always found a way to impact other's lives and win people to a better relationship with the Lord, yet God chose to take his life at a young age.  I found and still find myself always asking God why He chose to take someone like this man at such a young age.

All I can say is something I remember my dad discussing with me, and that is that when things don't seem to make sense that is when God is really working to do something big in your life.  You have to find peace in the midst of it all and accept that since it doesn't make sense to us, God must be at work!  And his advice to find peace reminds me of another song- one of my father singing "I've got peace like a river" in the car at the top of his lungs. Like I said at the beginning, music is a big part of my life.  My dad's music reminds me to always try to find peace in the midst of my chaotic life and that is what I chose to do tonight.