Little Henry's already three months old. I can hardly believe it! I thought you would enjoy this picture from our three month photo-shoot this past Saturday. Photo's were taken by our dear friend Laurel Pankratz. You can check out her blog at http://eilasphotography.blogspot.com/
Posted on August 12th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
Hey everyone, I know I’ve been away for a few weeks but there are good reasons for that. I have been off line entirely, not just my blog. I have needed some clarity on some decisions that are still in process and felt it necessary to remove the mental clutter that often takes up a lot of the free space on my mental hard drive. More on that later. Today I thought I would share a thought I’ve been chewing on lately. I recently heard someone say that they felt that perhaps they were in the midst of a “season of preparation”. In particular they were sharing this in light of the way they felt like their life was on hold, as if they had been put on pause. While the scripture makes clear in various places, Ecclesiastes 3 being the most popular, that there are times and seasons, I think it is important to keep our perspective clear. There is never a season of preparation or waiting that was not previously prepared for in a past season. (Pause, read that again. Ready? Ok). Simply said, every today is yesterday’s tomorrow. You have only now in this moment to live. While we diligently prepare for tomorrow we can’t be sure it will ever come and it is arrogant of us to assume that the Lord will gift us with it. James 4:13-17 says this very thing, our life is a vapor and we should not assume we will do this or that, but rather say “if the Lord wills it we will live...” I think that’s why James concludes this thought with verse 17, “To the one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, to them it is sin.” James is saying that now is the only moment we’ve got. If we keep waiting in anticipation for a better or future time we will never do the right thing. If we know what’s right and don’t do it right now, that’s sin, because now is the only future we’ve got. The Apostle Peter addresses this same thing in his second letter. He talks about how the character and qualities of Christ and how they should be increasing gradually in each of us as believers. Then he says this in verse 8, “If these qualities are yours and increasing they render you neither useless nor unfruitful in the true knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” As we are becoming more and more like Christ, no matter what season we find ourselves in spiritually, whether spring, summer, fall or the coldest of winters, we are always useful and full of purpose. Where are you? Are you struggling with your sense of purpose, like all of us do from time to time? Do you feel like maybe your life is in a holding pattern? Take heart and know that your Heavenly Father doesn’t waist anything! Even though you may be struggling now, know that the Lord has prepared you for this moment as much as He is using it to prepare you for the next. There is LIFE in this moment, right now. Embrace it, drink deeply of it, even if it stings and know that even in the toughest of times we can still bear fruit, we still have a destiny in Christ. Even as we have been prepared for this moment so this moment has been prepared for us (Ephesians 2:10). We have a work to do right here, right now! We have not been forgotten about, we have not been left on the shelf! Let us resolve again to pursue our Heavenly Father, to wade into the deeper waters of His love. As His character is revealed in us we may find that this is the moment we’ve been waiting for all along.
Posted on August 6th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
Last week the band and I had an incredible week at New Camp in Dayton, TN. We had an incredible time and I will be sure and blog more about that tomorrow. Just for fun, I wanted to post this picture of us on our “field trip” after whitewater rafting down the Ocoee. If you haven’t gone rafting before I highly recommend it, we had a blast!!! Talk to you tomorrow~ Erik
Posted on July 6th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
After a week of camp with Middle School and High School students this is kinda how I feel! Hope to be writing again next week!
Posted on July 1st, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
So today is Betsy’s first day back to work and little Henry and I are missing her terribly. My mother-in-law is helping provide child-care three days a week while I’m on the phone with Pastors and ministries and we are so grateful for her help.... but nothing replaces Mommy! Here is a picture I snapped last week during one of “Henry’s” naps. I guess Betsy needed a pacifier too! HA!
Posted on June 23rd, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
In 2005 I spent about six weeks in South Africa. I had been brought over with a group of American musicians to help lead and teach worship to university students and to churches in both Cape Town and Port Elizabeth. It was an amazing trip to say the least. We met one of Nelson Mandela’s closest officials and had tea in his home. He then personally escorted us on a tour of the bush and a wild game preserve where we saw giraffe, rhino, elephants and countless wonders you read about in story books from the time your in diapers. It was like nothing I have ever done before or since. About three days before the end of the trip we were told a surprise had been lined up for us. We loaded in a van before the sun rose and proceeded “over the river and through the woods” until we arrived at a little house on a remote beach on the coast of the Indian Ocean. We were told that we didn’t have to participate but if we wanted to, we were being presented a very rare opportunity.....shark diving. Not just any sharks mind you but Great White’s! It was just like what you’d see on the Discovery Channel. You get in a metal cage over the side of a boat and float, surrounded by bait, until the shark comes along and in an attempt to eat the bait scares you half to death. Well if you know me then you know I couldn’t wait to get in that cage. It was surreal!!! I loved every minute of it and hope to do it again someday with my family. Once I came back to America people asked about my trip: How was it? What did you do? Did you have a good time? Wow, I was overwhelmed, not by there questions so much but by how to answer them. I mean, what do you say when someone asks you what it’s like to stand 30 feet away from wild giraffe or float in a cage with Great White sharks literally inches from my face? What words do you use to describe that? Nothing I could’ve said could communicate everything I’d felt. But when I met someone who had been to South Africa the conversation was entirely different. There was very little said, it was mostly understood. They would say things like, “Wasn’t it just awe inspiring?” or “Can you hardly wait to go back?” or “I still haven’t gotten over my trip!” They didn’t ask many questions because they knew. They knew there was nothing I could say to communicate the way the trip had affected me and that perhaps anything I did say might feel like I was cheapening the experience. That’s exactly what it’s like to try and describe my love for my son. What can I say, what words are there to describe that...feeling, if it is a feeling? How is that quantifiable? How do I make sense of the way I can wake up at 2:00am and miss him when he’s just the next room over? How do you understand the sincerity of my joy when I tell you “he peed on me.... again” like it’s an honor badge? Really, how do I describe that? I don’t know that I can describe it with words but I’ll try to show him, everyday for the rest of his life, just how much I love him by the way I live. Of course I’ll try to tell him, after all I’m a songwriter (words are never in short supply), but it will be the way my love for him causes me to act that will make all the difference. So how do I describe our Heavenly Father’s love for us, knowing that my love for my son Henry is just a small shadow of the love God has for us? What would I use to measure it? What would I compare it to? I could tell you when I look at the mountains I hear the Father say, “Yeah, my love, it’s big like that” or when I look at the ocean He whispers, “My love for you, it’s wider than that”, but even the mountains and ocean fall short. It’s only when we look at our Heavenly Fathers actions that we even begin to realize just how incomprehensible His love for us really is. It’s only when we realize that His love for us caused Him to give up His own Son’s life, crucified on a cross, so that He might redeem our lives to Himself in exchange for the life of Jesus, that we understand that we cannot understand. There is no measure for that kind of love, there is no comparison. I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the gospel six weeks ago. Since Henry’s birth however, I am convinced I am clueless. I’ll just be honest; I wouldn’t give up my son’s life for any of you. Yes, I’m that “selfish”, if that’s what you call it. If you don’t have kids it’s not a lot different than asking me about my trip to Africa. Trying to describe my sentiment is futile. For those of you who are parents you know exactly what I’m talking about. I don’t have to defend the way I feel to you. You just get it. “For God so love the world that He gave His only begotten Son...”, I understand the value of that statement a little more today than I did six weeks ago, but I’m still a long way off.
Posted on June 20th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
Henry has been a really easy baby.... for the most part. When he’s good he’s really good, which praise the Lord is most of the time, but when he is fussy he is downright inconsolable. Not fun, not fun at all. If you don’t notice the warning signs early enough and miss getting him a pacifier within the allotted window it’s like he falls off a cliff. It’s not like this is new to parents it’s just new to me, it’s called colic and it’s happened to a thousand other babies. You can almost set your watch by it, it starts about 6:00-7:00 most every night and ends when little Henry decides it’s over. Unfortunately, you can almost set your watch by my reaction too. I am a total sap at first, the ultimate example of empathy. I say things like, “Oh bubby, I’m so sorry your tummy hurts” and then move into reassuring things like, “Daddy’s got you, it’s gonna be ok.” Ten to fifteen minutes later, I’ve stopped talking altogether and within 20-30 minutes I’m just angry and I’m looking to pass him off to Betsy and retreat! AHHHHHHH!!!! I’m not sure if it’s that he’s still hurting or the fact that I can fix it that drives me crazy. I’m sure it’s a combination of things but whatever it is it’s ugly and disappointing. I was so sure I’d have nerves of steel. It’s also convicting. It doesn’t take long for me to make the connection to what a “cry-fest” I can throw sometimes. Don’t get me wrong there is a time for tears and legitimate pain. That’s not what I’m talking about, I’m talking about the self-indulgent moaning, “woe-is-me”, “please give me attention” cry. I’m also not saying this is what my son is doing, although I know that will come later. I’m actually saying his crying is legitimate and that makes my impatience with him even more convicting. Not only does the Lord have limitless compassion for me in my actual suffering but even in my temper tantrums and self-centered whining he is soooooooooooooooo patient. Let’s be honest, you and I wouldn’t even put up with ourselves most of the time and yet the Lord is patient with us again and again and again. And it’s not like we are running into new troubles, we are bumping into the same things we’ve always been fighting. I turned 33 yesterday and it blows my mind to think that for 33 years my Heavenly Father has been right where He’s always been; by my side, loving me, waiting on me and encouraging me, patient. Unbelievable.
Posted on June 19th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
I’ll never forget the dumb-founded, stunned feeling Betsy and I shared when we found out we were pregnant. We had only been trying for a month so we were totally shocked at how “effective” our efforts had been. We sat down on the couch next to each other, shoulder-to-shoulder, and just stared off into the unknown future in total silence for what seemed like hours. After the dizziness wore off it was replaced by terror.... “How am I going to pay for this?” In the months leading up to Henry’s birth I have been amazed at the mantle of responsibility and determination that have increased in my own heart. I still remember where I was when I felt this overwhelming sense of peace and ownership, my heart and mind were changed in a moment. I was no longer afraid of the truth; I was energized by it! I didn’t HAVE to provide....I GOT to provide. From that moment on preparing for his arrival was wonderful. Whether it was putting together the crib, fixing up the house or buying those first diapers, it was a so much fun! If our son was going to need it than we stopped at nothing to provide the best for him that we could. Throughout the scripture one of the names of the Lord is Jehovah-Jireh. It is often simply translated to mean, “The Lord will provide.” More correctly said it means that the Lord sees our need before it arises and supplies provision for it. In the same way that I, as a father-to-be, began to prepare for my son’s needs before he was even born, so our Heavenly Father prepares for us. The Bible makes it clear that in addition to blessing and gifting us with new life in Christ, as Christians the Lord has also provided good works for us to walk into (Ephesians 2:8-10), and will continue to supply all of our needs. There were many times in preparing for Henry that the proverbial barrel was empty, we had no idea how we were going to get what we needed and be able to make the bills too. It was a very scary feeling, “what have we gotten ourselves into?!” And then, seemingly out of nowhere, some long-lost relative would send us a check in the mail, or friends would call and say, “Hey, I was gonna throw this away and then I thought of you.” By the time everything was provided and accounted for the only things we actually had to buy were the crib and car seat (safety warnings say these should be purchased new) and a used rocker, everything else was gifted to us. Are heads are still spinning at the incredible generosity of the Lord through the relationships He has given us. God’s hand in providing everything we need has been so evident. Why did I ever doubt? Maybe I thought it was too much trouble for the Lord? Maybe He would forget about me? Now that I’m a Father I have a different understanding; the Lord doesn’t just provide for us out of a sense of responsibility or because He said He would, it’s his joy to do it! He loves us so much that there is nothing He wouldn’t do, He will spare no expense, not even the life of His only Son, to provide for us everything we need. We can trust Him, He’s our Father, He loves us and He sees our needs before we have them and then reveals his provision in His perfect timing.
Posted on June 17th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
That's me on the left, June 18, 1977 and Henry is in the exact same outfit on the right, May 7, 2010. They were almost my parent’s first words the first time they laid eyes on my son, “He looks just like you!” Without a minutes pause both grandparents started comparing noses and chins, eyes and hair. “Oh he’s got Daddy’s ‘this’, oh and ‘that’ looks just like his Mommy.” It was almost like watching a skit on Saturday Night Live, absolutely hysterical! I’m sure the whole experience was of course magnified by the fact that I had just met my son for the first time and was thinking many of the same thoughts. The truth is, Henry looked so much like me when he was born it was a little creepy. It was literally like looking at myself. Since Henry’s birth we have been blessed to have 50+ visitors come by the house to celebrate his arrival. It has become one of my most anticipated moments, when during each visit I know they will inevitably say, “He looks just like you!” There is just something about those words. They absolutely light me up inside. Can you imagine it any other way? What if my son didn’t look like my wife or me at all? What if he came out looking more like and alien with green skin and beady eyes, like something from a low budget sci-fi movie? We would still be completely in love with him but there would be a lot of questions. Like, was Betsy abducted by a group of extra-terrestrials?! Are we his parents at all? I don’t mean to take a weird turn with this but my point is, except in a few medically specific situations, children generally resemble their parents in some way. Whether it’s in their physical appearance or the sound their laugh, if you hang around children long enough you begin to notice more and more the little ways that they are just like their Mom and Dad. It’s the same way in our relationship with our Heavenly Father. Once we have been “born again” in Christ we are His children. 2 Corinthians 5:17 says, “If any man be in Christ he is a new creature: the old things are passed away; behold all things are become new.” As our old self dies it is replaced by the life and character of Christ. Our lives are to be lived in such a way that we become “mini-me’s” of Jesus. In fact, the early church was so successful at emulating the life of Jesus that unbelievers began calling them Christians, which literally means “little Christ”. So my question is this, are we living our lives in such a way that when people see us they say, “You look just like your Father!”? Do we look just like Jesus? Can people see His love in our eyes? Are our hands serving like His? Does our mouth bring healing when we speak? If we don’t live in a way that reflects and resembles the character of Jesus and yet we claim him as our Father, it is no different then my wife and I giving birth to an alien child; people will wonder if He’s really our Father at all. But, when we do demonstrate the love of Christ, when we do reveal He’s our Father by the way we live it pleases Him more than anything else. He loves us unconditionally, there’s nothing we could ever do to make Him love us more or less, but our Heavenly Father longs to hear those words spoken of us “He looks just like Jesus.”
Posted on June 15th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe
Photo Courtesy of Laurel Pankratz at Eilas Photography Lesson 1: His actions on our behalf are always for our good...always. One of the first Bible verses I ever memorized was Romans 8:28 which says, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good, to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” It’s a really simple verse with a really big meaning. When your six years old it’s pretty easy to believe that God is good...but then life happens. Somewhere between the disappointments, the unemployment, the divorce, the cancer, the loss of innocence, the broken dreams, the car accident, the untimely death and the depression, things get blurry and what once was so obvious can seem so intangible and down right hard to believe. It can be day-to-day; on Monday the sun is shining and our faith is high but by Tuesday afternoon it feels like the world is ending and we question whether or not there is a God at all. Do you ever feel that way? I sure do. And then come the voices, “What did I do to deserve this? Doesn’t God love me? What’s wrong with me?” I feel hurt, angry, shame, fear and most of all lonely. “Why would God do this or allow this to happen to me?” In just the first five weeks of my son’s life he has helped me answer a lot of these questions, but there are still a lot without answers. What I do know is this, whether I caused it by my own actions or God sent it, God is always working it together for my good.....always. Let’s look at it from my son Henry’s perspective. Take a dirty diaper for instance, he is hungry so he cries and as loving parents we feed him because he needs it. However, this feeding must be digested which causes painful gas. In order to help ease the pain the gas is causing we give him medicine, but he fights the medicine and tries to reject it, which occasionally causes him to choke. Eventually, after fighting through the gas, Henry fills his diaper. As loving parents we change his diaper to remove the harmful by-product, which he again does not enjoy. He squirms around and flails his arms trying to get the discomfort to stop. Finally, with his belly full and his diaper changed he falls asleep in our arms, exhausted. From Henry’s perspective the only part of the process he “enjoys” is the eating part, everything else is miserable! From my perspective everything I’m doing is out of love. In fact I would be evil to not try and comfort my son in his pain or if I were to leave him sit in his dirty diaper. But to him my efforts only seem to cause him more discomfort and irritation. He doesn’t know what he needs, nor how to fix it, he just knows it hurts. In his trying to comfort himself by squirming and fussing he just complicates my efforts to help him and delays the process. All this sounds strangely familiar. I know I love it when God feeds me; give me, give me, mine, mine, mine! It’s the digestion part I don’t like, having to actually wrestle with what’s good for me. Processing that which is vital for life and growth often causes pain and tears. Growing up isn’t always fun but it is necessary. Sometimes we don’t always understand what’s going on and I won’t pretend to tell you I’ve got it figured out. I’m still clueless about the process but I am learning to trust a little more. I’m trusting that even though it causes me pain, sleepless nights, heart ache and tears, I’m trusting that my Father love’s me even more than I love my son. If I am imperfect and I would do anything in my power to bless and comfort my son, how much more does my Perfect Father in heaven long to do for me? I still don’t like the process but having a little one of my own makes me confident that my Father is for me and that he is working even that which causes me pain for my good.
Posted on June 14th, 2010 by Erik Bledsoe