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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Why Salt Lake City, UT? part 2

My life after meeting Jesus looked markedly different than the one before. If there was one thing that is true now and was true those first years in college was that not only did I believe in Jesus, I wanted to spend my time on this earth living for Him. I quickly etched out a regiment on what I believed that looked like. Things like reading the Bible daily, praying at all times and in all circumstances, waiting for a husband that had the same goals and love for Jesus, giving my time to investing in other people, serving the hurting, leading and ministering bible studies, women's studies, and being an active and committed part of a local church.
Looking back on this list there aren't many of these things that I believe are wrong- in fact there is strong argument from the bible that each of these things should be part of your life. But they became my life. As a pastor recently mentioned, "serving God became the central focus and priority but loving Jesus took the back seat." I soon found myself in the very same place I was before. Empty, yearning for something more, confused, and hopeless.
Here I was, supposedly having the very Jesus that promised me full life and yet I felt that full life was still slipping through my fingers. I had replaced Jesus with business in His name. And lost my love for him. I was defined by my own rules and regulations for what I felt it looked like to follow Him and had enslaved myself all over again.
So I wiped the slate clean. Started all over again. Putting Jesus continually in the center. And here is what I have learned: I don't have a definition of what a godly Christ followers life is 'supposed' to look like. Can they ski? yes. Can they live on a beach? yes. Can they have 10 kids or no kids? yes. Can they live by themselves in the middle of nowhere? yes. What about the big city? yes. Do they read their bible daily? They probably should but not cause they are better for it. But because they want to know better this person/creator that walked the earth for their sake. Here is a big one...are they allowed to have fun? Just for the sake of fun? YES. And until this point I didn't think that was true!

So that is where I am at. Learning to really live for loving Jesus and not knowing at all what that will look like for my life but knowing that God does not intend for it to look exactly like the person next to me. Right now iI believe I am loving Jesus in moving to Salt Lake City. Not that in order to love Jesus you must move to SLC but that right now, in this moment, that is what it means for me. And I am praying God fills in the margins of my life as we walk this path and makes it more clear what loving Jesus means to me daily. I pray my devotion increases.
I was struck by this thought today: Legalism snuffs out devotion. That when life presses in on those who claim Christianity only out of duty, they will abandon it. We weren't created to thrive in relationship done only from obligation.

Why Salt Lake City, UT? part 1

In case you haven't heard my husband and I are uprooting our 3 kids, and moving to Salt lake City, UT.
People ask, "Why Salt Lake." And I say, "why not?"
I've been told that this isn't an adequate answer but then, what is?
There are many unknowns in life. I cannot expect to have an answer to them all. Nor do I necessarily want one. Life wouldn't be an adventure if we new exactly what to expect.
But this is what I do know:
I had an awesome childhood- my friends were always wishing for cool parents that did fun stuff like mine. We were always on the go- skiing every weekend in the Winter, camping and windsurfing every weekend in the summer. I had a blast. Learned a lot. Saw a lot. And as I look back I think all the family time, mixed with being away every weekend kept me out of a lot of the partying trouble other friends of mine got into in high school. But late in my senior year and during my freshman year in college I began to recognize an emptiness that no amount of outdoor adventures could satiate. Life felt purposeless, just one more ski day or one more mountain climbed seemed like an empty chasing after the wind- since that was all that I was looking towards.
In college I was re-introduced to the concept that every person has a hole in their life- a hole nothing in this world was meant to fill. This resonated with me. And the only thing that could fill that hole was a personal relationship with Jesus. In the gospel of John chapter 10 Jesus said, "I came to give you life, life to the full." But he also said you didn't just get this life because you grew up going to church, or gave money, or were generally kind, or kept the ten commandments. The Bible gives specific instructions on how we are to receive the full and eternal life offered in Jesus.

First, it says we must repent. In Luke 13 Jesus said, "Unless you repent, you to will all perish." And in Romans 10 it says we must express this to God: first that we believe in him and that we trust in Jesus death on the cross as the payment necessary for our own sins. This is how we have eternal life! This revolutionized my daily experience. My eternity was settled. But my present was not. I had and still have a lot to learn about the full implications of what following Jesus means for my life time on this earth.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Peace Project - Merry Christmas!

"I should have liked to have had the lightest licence of a child, and yet be man enough to know its value." - Charles Dickens, A Christmas Carol

Peace Project Countdown- Christmas Eve

Every Christmas morning my husband Chris received a clementine at the bottom of his stocking. Growing up "Erickson" explains this as a Swedish custom from World War II, or possibly earlier, where fruit was so rare and priceless that it was a highly treasured gift at Christmas.
A clementine. A tradition. Not so treasured now, but a beautiful reminder that not every blessing we have now will neccessarily remain so.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 2!

I miss the snow. It might be the one thing that makes Christmas feel like, well, Christmas. But we don't have any. Not even any hint of it here in the Fort. But I am thankful because really it is a blessing in disguise for us Erickson's. Trying to sell our house is better served by a snow free and bad weather free enviroment. And we prayed for this. So sorry everyone else. But thanks God!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 3

I am so thankful today for Jesus who died for me, loves me, and fights for me but does not hold me indebted to Him for it. He wants my love, my adoration, my obediance, but does not demand it. Never in my life has he put me up against a wall and told me that his love and support would only be there if I did what he wanted.

And I am thankful for a husband who loves like this as well in regard to our children. He continually reminds them that they will not get away with defiance and disobedience, but even if they misbehave, we will still love and accept them at the end of the day. We pour out on them, not because we expect anything in return but because Christ's love compels us. And God is no different with us. For a kid in our culture the message of Christmas is this- behave and you will get presents. Not in our house. We give gifts to celebrate the birth of Jesus- and everyone gets to receive no matter their past bahavior or future choices. Just like Jesus free gift of eternal life is meant for everyone, not just the well behaved or right.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Evolution of a name

In Salt Lake last month we stayed with a family with other young kids (6 and under). During one particular dinner their daughter said, "Mom that girl (referring to Anibel)..." which led to a quiz on each of our kid's names. When asked, she said (pointing to each kid), "Punkin, Muffin and I don't remember his name." I had to crack up. That is us in a nut shell. Nick names for everyone and a different one for each stage of their life.

Here is Anibel's lineage: Bunches-honey bunches of oats-whaler-bug-goose-punkin-punk-Bella-Bells

Abishai's- Peanut-little man-baby boy-Abs of steal-Abs-man cub-Shai-wrecking ball-walking disaster-Boy

And Esme's so far: Ezzie-Ezzie May-Bebe-Ez-Muffins-Muffs-Macky Muff-love muffin-backpack

Yes. That is correct. The latest name the kids call her is backpack. I guess I can see why...

Peace Project Countdown- 4

Mischief. For most of their infant/baby life I believe my children can do no wrong, and certainly will never sin. And as they approach the 1 year mark their little personalities emerge. This is great fun but also a little alarming. Esme is beginning this process...the process of realizing she has an opinion on her world and starting to express that opinion. Toys that she is sick of? Thrown on the floor. Mommy tells her "no"? Drama ensues. Our "I will eat anything girl"? Now throws the unwanted food across the table if given the chance to lay her hands on it. But ulitmately this is part of the deal and a healthy part of it. The possible implications if she never began to interact with her world for good or bad might indicate any number of brain development issues. So thank you God for a healthy developing baby girl. Even if that development is frightening sometimes.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 5

Only five days till Christmas! And what simple daily comfort am I rejoicing in today? The toilet. A flushing toilet.

I am going to let you in on a secret. I very often find myself day dreaming about how convenient the world would be if you could go to the bathroom where ever and whenever you like. Every time I come back from camping or backpacking I find myself inconvenienced by having to wait for a bathroom and not being able to use the nearest tree.

But the difference between some remote area and lets say, the middle of Fort Collins is significant. Imagine a city of people living in rather close proximity, without plumbing? Not to hard to imagine... I've been there. It is called India. And anyone who has been to a third world country can relate.

So here's to the flushing toilet- both of them that reside in my house. And here is to the (hopefully) rapidly approaching moment when my son decides to use them.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 6

My Christopher. Anibel Rayne. Abishai Valor. Esme Patricia. My family. They are at once the single greatest thing I am thankful for and the thing I most often take for granted...

Peace Project Countdown- 7

That nature of things. Have you ever been in a big city? Like LA or Paris or Rome? My time in each of those cities I hold dear to my heart, but while I was there I was struck by one thing over and over: nature felt inaccessible and distant. It brought a strange sort of longing to my soul. So much so that when in Paris, I declared to my traveling buddies that we were going to catch the next train to Switzerland- strike or no stike.

There is a simplicity, peacefulness, beauty found in nature that cannot be manufactured by humans. What amazed me today was the beauty contained in a landscape that was dead. Dead for the winter that is.

Today I recognize that my proximity to wide open spaces is a blessing, and not something I can expect to have through out my life. I drive by these Colorado foothills everyday and ignore them. I can see at least one fourteener out my window and rarely do I stand in awe. Help me God, not to miss the beauty around me, simply because it is usual.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 8

Unanswered prayer. Need I say more? One of the great challenges of my daily walk with God is many of the prayers I have or am praying that I have yet to see answers too... And I don't have all the answers. Often I think Christians are afraid of prayer and all the unanswered questions regarding it. We hate to look into the void and not understand. We are quick to compartmentalize it into catagories: "oh you must not have prayed in God's will," or "you didn't pray long enough," or "your motives must have been wrong." But most the time I think God just wants us to sit in the uncertainly, recognizing the lack in our own ability to discern or understand... and then to praise him in the midst of it.
I have a love hate relationship with the following verse. But I read it this morning and am thankful for it.
"Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior." Habakkuk 3:17-18

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 9

#4 on my list of blessings is the ability to train my kids. Even at this young age I spend much of my time teaching them to work hard. Often I find myself becoming frusterated at having to explain over and over again where to put the silverware, remind them constantly to "obey Mom" or stop complaining about having to do chores. But I cannot expect them to act like adults (even some adults do not know how to work hard, finish tasks, or do them correctly). They are kids, and little ones at that. And it is my job, and my blessing, to train them in how to live.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 10

Thank you for those chappy red cheeks, the 102 degree temp, and running nose and mouth. But here is what is amazing... through it all Ez is still smiling. I wish when my 'world' was falling apart I would still be able to smile and find as much comfort in my Jesus' arms as Ezzie does in mine. There is something so simple and innocent about it. Oh, and thank you God for Tylenol. Where would we be without it?

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 11

For that one or two times a year I either lose my keys or lock them in the car(today)- I toast the other 362 days of the year that I don't. And thank you wonderful husband for running home so I could go to my pilates class.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Peace Project Countdown- 12

Grouchy kiddos. This is #1 On my list. Cause grouchy or not I still love them. And perhaps a case of the grumps is good for me. It teaches me how to better love those who at the moment are not very easy to love. That and this pic cracks me up!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Project Peace

Discontent. I woke up this morning, not wanting to wake up. I nursed a baby and rolled my eyes when I heard the kids waking up LOUDLY in their rooms and starting to yell. I stumbled downstairs to cereal and munching mouths, thinking, "I want to be munching too." But instead, I poured some coffee, ran upstairs and got dressed. Minutes later I emerged from the bedroom, sighed at the pile of laundry by the door and the dust balls that danced around my ankles, and embarked on feeding Ezzie "twosies." This took nearly all my patience as half of every spoonful hit the bib or balanced precariously on the edge of her chin. And her fresh outfit? Now spotted with applesauce, and me? Spotted with her applessauce as well...

This Christmas I want to stop. Stop. Stop and enjoy all the things I don't enjoy. Because here is the truth. All the things that drive me crazy all day long, if suddenly taken from me, would leave a deep and painful hole in my life. If my kids were taken from me, I would give anything to wash their tiny pants again, to hear them yelling in the next room, or wipe applesauce off their faces. If my house was taken from me, I would yearn to vacuum its floors and turn off its lights. If my husband was taken from me, I would be desperate for one more call from him, even if it was only to say he'd be home late from work.
So for the remaining days until Christmas this is my goal: to share with you one thing a day that I am thankful for, one thing that might normally be taken for granted or even dispised and recognize it for the blessing it is. Feel free to share some of your own as well!

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Lesson #3 in semantics - The Golden Rule

"Do unto others what you would want done to you."

Everyone has heard this throughout their lives, christian or not. This simple rule covers many of the selftish tendencies of children. But once again I am surprised at my daughter's interpretation.
Abs and Bells play nicely together probably 60% of the time. And the other 40% they fight over toys, they fight over space, they get angry, or they argue over the specifics of how they should go about playing together. This last week I've spent countless moments illustating the golden rule to Bells, asking her to do to her brother like she would want done to her. HER INTERPRETATION: Make her brother do what she wants to do.
She wants the stool in the middle of the kitchen. He wants it by the wall. Solution?
Bells: "Abs you need to put it in the middle cause I want you do what I want you to do." Um yeah....
Isn't that all our apply rules religiously to others but not see our own failure to abide by them?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Lesson #2 in semantics

Another tale of semantics concerning Anibel...
Last night, as we were getting ready for bed, Anibel came into our room and with all the heart felt adoration she could muster said, "Mom and Dad, I really really love you, cause I have to."

We both stiffled our laughter, knowing that she believed herself to have said something really kind. How do I put in four year old terms the complexity of motivation, duty, and blessing others?

It is like Chris giving me roses and when I say thank you he says, "Just doing my duty."
As I encounter all these so called 'lessons,' I am learning more and more how complex our communication is and why kids are so often confused and mistaken.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


This blog has taken interesting turns and now stands at a cross roads. It began a few months ago as a simple challenge to work my writing brain once again. It very soon thereafter turned into a thought sharing on daily life/update on my family blog and now I see it becoming more of an online journal. How interesting it is to watch our natural tendencies play out before our eyes without any conscious thought to it. But I don't want it to be a journal. Nor do I want it to be thought sharing time from Alyssa'a perspective (though it will inherant be this by manner of its creator). I don't know what I want...but my original intention was to diving into my creative brain that seems to have gone dormant during the last 4 years of child-rearing. To explore writing. To explore words. And within those words to explore the origin of yearning, the meaning of experiences, and those things that struggle to explode from my heart while cruising down the road of everyday life. Very simply, to put in print the realities of life.

Lessons in Futility

1. Taking the scenic route at night.
2. Cleaning a toilet.
3. Bathing little boys.
4. and... trying to sell our house!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

These are the moments...

Monday's are date nights. Every monday. And still most weeks one of the kids has a little trouble with us leaving and cries as we work our way out the door.

Yesterday, Bella was the one in tears and descretely in the background I hear Abs say, "Sissy crying. Go help sissy." When I finally peeled her arms from around my neck and set her at the table with Karris, I looked to see where Abs had gone. He was in the livingroom diligently picking up Bell's puzzles and putting them away. These are the moments....

Often I think God just wants my service, my obedience to His rules, my spreading of His name, my giving of our money, etc. None of these things are wrong. And you could argue that is what he does want. But God says he is our father. He too is a parent. And what do I enjoy most from my kids? Their love. Abishai wasn't following the rules, he didn't simple obey a command; he was looking to love his sister. It was the overflow of his heart. And God wants our hearts. He desires us to everyday make Him our first love, not out of duty, because we should or have to or are supposed to. But because we love Him.